According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills one woman about every 70 seconds. It’s the number one cause of death among women in the United States, but many women are unaware of the threat. That’s why it’s so important for women to take some time to get all of the heart disease facts they can find.
A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found 45 percent of women did not know heart disease kills more women in the United States than all forms of cancer combined. Researchers say awareness levels were lower in women with lower levels of education and income and in ethnic minorities. Nearly 71 percent of women almost never brought up heart health with their doctor, assuming their doctor would raise the issue if there was a problem.
Heart Disease Deaths
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
- That’s more than 298,000 deaths every year.
- Heart attacks kill about 267,000 women every year, which is six times as many as breast cancer.
- Almost two-thirds of women who are killed by heart attacks do not have a history of chest pain.
- 31,800 women die from congestive heart failure annually, accounting for more than 60 percent of all heart failure deaths.
More Common Than You Think
- Nearly 44 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
- But by 2035, almost 45 percent of women will be living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
- Nearly 3 million women have a history of heart attack.
Who’s at Risk?
- Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers.
- Women who smoke are more likely to experience a heart attack than those who don’t.
- Women with diabetes have a 2.5-fold higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease compared to women who do not have diabetes.
- Women with high blood pressure are 3.5 times more susceptible to coronary heart disease.
- High blood-pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, poor dietary patterns, high sodium intake, smoking, being overweight or obese, and physical inactivity, all factors that increase your risk of heart disease.
Signs and Symptoms
- The early warning sign of heart attack for approximately 70% of women is sudden and extreme weakness, usually without chest pain.
- Other symptoms include: nausea, throat or jaw pain, and pain that spreads to the arm.
- Also, don’t ignore shortness of breath and sweating.
Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms that don’t involve chest pain—though pain in the chest, back and shoulders is still a symptom. Understanding that the symptoms for women are often more subtle than symptoms for men can help you recognize a cardiac event if it happens to you.
The best way to prevent and manage heart disease is to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. If you’d like to assess your risk for heart disease you can get advice from our cardiologists, or read our guide “Heart Disease Facts That Can Save Your Life.”