Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. In fact, if a woman has a heart attack, she is more likely to die than a man. If she survives the heart attack, she is at a higher risk of having a second heart attack within a year. According to the American Heart Association, women have a greater risk of developing heart disease than all types of cancer combined, including breast cancer.
A heart attack can strike suddenly and without warning. While the attack itself may last only minutes, its devastating effects can last a lifetime. When it comes to heart health, know your numbers. Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women There are several risk factors that may increase the chance of developing heart disease. The good news is some risk factors can be reduced with lifestyle changes.
Age (risk increases with age)
High blood pressure
Abnormal cholesterol levels
Being overweight or obese
Having a waist measurement of more than 35 inches
Family history of heart disease
Poor management of stress
Unhealthy eating habits
Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day
Delivery of baby small for gestational age
Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis
End Stage Renal Disease
Radiation treatment for breast cancer
Depression and/or anxiety disorder
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Migraine with Aura
Pregnancy induced hypertension
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack in Women Because many women tend to ignore or overlook heart attack warning signs or confuse them with other conditions, it’s important to consult a physician immediately if you experience any of the following warning signs:
Sudden fatigue >
Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
Stomach or abdominal pain
Dull ache, pain, tightness or pressure in the chest, back, arm or jaw
Know your numbers – cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index and body fat percentage play an important role in heart health
Know the risk factors
Know the early warning signs and symptoms
Establish a relationship with a primary care physician
Stay educated about heart disease and the latest treatment options
Women’s Heart Disease Risk Assessment The Norton Women’s Heart and Vascular Center at Norton St. Matthews, offers heart disease risk assessments, where a nurse checks your cholesterol levels, including HDL and triglycerides, hbA1c and glucose levels, blood pressure, body mass index, and waist measurement. The screening includes education on heart disease risk factors, reduction of modifiable risk factors with lifestyle changes, and signs and symptoms of heart disease. A nurse will share results with you and offer advice on how to decrease risk factors for heart disease as well as connect you with resources at Norton Healthcare and in the community to help you lead a healthy lifestyle. Your results can be sent to your primary care physician.
Cardiac evaluation If you have a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or have experienced any of the warning signs, a full cardiac evaluation may be advised. A cardiologist from Norton Heart Care will perform the evaluation.
Scheduling an appointment If you would like to schedule a heart disease risk assessment, cardiac evaluation or register for a free Circle of Hearts class, call (502) 629-1234. Download a fact sheet.