women 4 hope

Dedicated to addressing women’s issues.

Women and Heart Disease — Knowing The Facts Could Save Your Life

Posted by Catherine Morgan on January 24, 2007

Women 22
picture by © photows100


You should know that…Women are at a very high risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Women are also less likely to survive a heart attack than a man.

The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take some time to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health. Even though you can’t do much about your family history or your age, you can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors. Here is a list of what doctors recommend:

Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.

Control your blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.

Control your cholesterol level. If you don’t know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.

Exercise regularly. Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Eat a low-fat diet. Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.

Be aware of chest pain. Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heat attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.

As a nurse as well as someone who suffers from blood pressure problems myself, I would add that being “in-tune” with your own body and how it is feeling is extremely important. You are the best judge of what is “normal” for your body. When in doubt, get it checked out. Don’t risk your life because you are too busy to go to the doctor. And, don’t waste your time with a doctor who doesn’t respect your needs and concerns. If something isn’t feeling right, don’t ignore it. You are the best ‘patient advocate’ you will ever have, so don’t let any medical professional intimidate you into questioning yourself.

The three things to remember are: Know yourself. Know the facts. Know when to get help.


12 Responses to “Women and Heart Disease — Knowing The Facts Could Save Your Life”

  1. kenwahfu said

    Your recommended list for healthy lifestyle is excellent.
    I will give 100% support to the above program.

  2. “Kenwahfu” — THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT. I’m just getting started so the positive feedback is greatly appreciated. I’ll check out your site soon.

    Thanks Again.

  3. Hello; Catherine thanks! for the great information and yes, I also will fully support. My wife has just went through Breast Cancer, and she smokes I’ve been on her seems like forever to stop but, she won’t even after going through Breast Cancer she still refuses to give them up and shes 49 years old now. I guess the 60s had allot to offer including cigerettes.. You know whats so ironic is when I was in the Military back in the 70s they were giving out cigerettes in your meals-ready-to-eat. Day in and Day out we all are faced with the important meal decisions of creating a nice low-fat supper for our family everyday or the quick and easy Fast Food option and I would say that 78-80% of the US would chose the later because, of the quick & easy solution to the problem at hand. If you want to learn more about the number 1 killer in the USA today Heart Disease please visit:


    @ If your worried about cholesterol please visit:


  4. […] ALSO SEE: Women and Heart Disease — Knowing the facts could save your life. […]

  5. Chest or arm pain or discomfort can be a symptom of heart disease and a warning sign of a heart attack. Shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air), dizziness, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), abnormal heartbeats, or feeling very tired also are signs. Chest pain or discomfort (angina ) is the most common symptom. You feel this pain when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen.

  6. NATALIA said

    i feel terible for these womans they just have to be strong iam 13 years old and studying on this kinds of stuff i think u guys are survivers…BE STRONG u can DO IT!! just by a helping hand!!!

  7. Doctors now know that heart disease is so deadly for women that their chances of dying from it are one in two. That means basically that either you or your best girlfriend is likely to die of a heart attack, stroke , or related heart problem. Doctors have traditionally used a one-size-fits-all approach to identifying and diagnosing heart disease. In this view, women often lack the “classic” signs of reduced blood flow to part of the heart, a condition known as ischemia. Doctors and patients often attribute chest pains in women to noncardiac causes, leading to misinterpretation of their condition. Men usually experience crushing chest pain during a heart attack.

  8. Roslinda said

    your recommended list are helpfull, I’ll try to do it

  9. Carolyn said

    I’m a heart attack survivor and a 2008 graduate of the Mayo Clinic Science & Leadership Symposium For Women with Heart Disease in Rochester, Minnesota. What we learned at Mayo Clinic was shocking: women are under-diagnosed and under-treated compared to male heart patients (and this starts right in the ambulance with the paramedics! Recent studies show that even EMT staff are twice as likely to offer basic aspirin to a man with heart attack symptoms than to a woman with the same symptoms).

    Some interesting research out of Oregon helps to explain another serious issue that contributes to women’s higher death rates: researchers have identified six specific treatment-seeking-delay behaviours that women exhibit when heart attack symptoms hit. More info at my blog Heart Sisters: http://myheartsisters.org/2009/05/22/know-and-go-during-heart-attack/

    You’re right Catherine – women MUST learn to pay attention when something does not feel right. You know your body. You know when something is wrong. Take the same pro-active and prompt steps to seek treatment that you would if it were your daughter or your friend displaying the same symptoms.

    Carolyn Thomas

  10. jadesmith1789 said

    Even if heart disease is linked with men more nowadays women have a great risk of heart diseases. Women are six fold more prone to heart disease related death as compared to breast cancer. Metabolic syndrome-a merger of fat accruement in the abdominal region, hypertension, elevated blood glucose levels and triglycerides could have bigger effect on females as compared to males. Being mentally stressed and depressed could impact heart health in women far more as compared to men. Depression has two folds greater commonness in females as compared to males and it augments heart disease risk by 2-3 folds in comparison to women not under depression. Women below sixty-five years of age and having a family case history of cardiovascular disease must especially be alert about heart disease risk factors.

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