A few facts about heart disease in women:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women over the age of 25.
- One in three women will die of heart disease or stroke each year.
- Ninety percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
Why Valley Created a Heart Program Just for Women
The statistics above are just a few of the reasons why we created Valley’s Heart Care for Women program.
The reality is that women experience heart disease differently than men:
- Women often have different heart symptoms than men, respond differently to treatment and are prescribed medical therapies less often.
- Women are more likely to downplay their heart symptoms and delay talking to their doctor or going to the hospital.
- Diagnosing a heart problem in women can be more complicated due to women’s smaller arteries, hormonal influences and more.
- Women have not been included as frequently as men in cardiac research studies, which have set the standard for diagnosis and treatment.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women Are Different
Heart attack symptoms in women are often not recognized and go undetected and untreated. Both men and women can experience the typical chest pain, pressure or discomfort. Woman experience more subtle symptoms than men, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
- Extreme fatigue
We encourage women to become well versed in the symptoms and assure they respond to any and all symptoms.
Women’s Heart Disease Risks
Female-specific issues can increase a woman’s overall heart disease risk later in life. These include:
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Chest radiation for breast cancer
In addition, “typical” heart risk factors can increase a woman’s risk. For instance, women smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who smoke. And, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease in women more than in men.
Get Heart Help Immediately
The good news: If you seek help for heart attack symptoms quickly, treatment can save your life and prevent permanent damage to your heart muscle.
Unfortunately, because their symptoms are not the “typical” heart attack symptoms, women often come to emergency rooms after much heart damage has already occurred.
If you think you're having a heart attack, call 911 for emergency medical help immediately.