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Health Minute: Women's Heart Health

By: Claude

Women’s Heart Health with Dr. Daisy F. Lazarous, Director, Women’s Cardiovascular Program and women’s heart specialist with Adventist HealthCare

Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a man’s disease, almost as many women as men die each year of heart disease in the United States.

How does heart disease affect women?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for about one in every four female deaths.  

Do women experience different heart attack symptoms then men?

The most common symptom in both men and women is chest pain. However, women may experience unusual symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the back, neck, jaw or throat
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Problems breathing  

What are the risk factors for heart disease in women?

There are risk factors you can’t change like a person’s age or family history.

The largest modifiable risk factors are having diabetes, smoking and experiencing mental stress or depression. Other risk factors that people can change include:

  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Alcohol intake
  • Unhealthy diet  

How can women decrease their risk?

The good news is that heart disease is almost 100% preventable with simple lifestyle modifications. As the leading cause of preventable death, giving up smoking is the best way to decrease your risk. Other modifications include limiting your alcohol intake, getting enough exercise and eating a healthier diet. It’s most important to know your numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and knowing what is considered a healthy level.

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