Infographic: Women and Heart Disease

Women and Heart Disease: Recognize the Signs

It's often thought that heart disease only affects men, but it affects women too.

  • 44 million U.S. women are affected
  • 90% of women have one or more heart disease risk factors
  • 1 in 4 deaths in women result from heart disease

The good news:

  • 80% of risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle changes
  • Greater awareness can improve the chance of catching heart disease sooner

Why isn't heart disease detected in women more often?

  • Symptoms can often be different than the well-known symptoms in men
  • Some women show no symptoms
  • Any noticeable symptoms may be ignored or dismissed

How is heart disease in women different?

Traditional risk factors:

  • Diabetes*
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking*

*Carries greater risk in women

Unique risk factors for women:

  • Menopause
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Pregnancy complications

Symptoms and signs common in women:

  1. Lightheadedness
  2. Sweating
  3. Nausea or vomiting
  4. Neck, jaw, shoulder or upper back discomfort
  5. Chest pain, pressure or discomfort
  6. Pain in one or both arms
  7. Shortness of breath
  8. Abdominal discomfort

What women can do to reduce risk and take control?

Speak up and request screening

  • Schedule wellness visits and ask for screening
  • Know your numbers – blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose

Take control of risk factors

  • Quit smoking
  • Take up exercise
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins

Be proactive

  • If you are experiencing symptoms that could be due to your heart, get help
  • Don't wait to call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room

Sources: MayoClinic.org; CDC.gov; Heart.org; GoRedForWomen.org; WHO.int.

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