Women and heart health

Every minute, one woman in the U.S. dies from a heart attack, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in America.

It’s common for many people to assume that heart disease impacts more men than women. However, statistics show that roughly the same number of women and men die of heart disease each year in the U.S. The CDC reports that only 54 percent of women in America are aware that heart disease is their primary cause of death.

Facts about women and heart disease

Important facts about heart disease in women:

  • Symptoms of heart disease in women are different than symptoms in men - An estimated 64 percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
  • Heart disease can affect both older and younger women - While the risks of cardiovascular disease in women do increase with age, younger women are not immune to heart disease. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking can increase one’s risk of heart disease by 20 percent.
  • Women with a history of heart disease in their family are at higher risk - It’s important to know your family history and talk to your doctor about risk factors for heart disease. For women, it is possible to reduce your risk of heart disease by changing your diet or adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Source: American Heart Association

Symptoms of a heart attack in women

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women include:

  • Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that last more than a few minutes - this pain can go away and come back
  • Pain or discomfort in one (or both) arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or breaking out into a cold sweat

While chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack for both women and men, women can be more likely to experience some of the other symptoms, particularly nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath and back or jaw pain.

Cardiologists who specialize in treating women and heart disease

Reynaria Pitts, MD

According to the American College of Cardiology, women cardiologists represent only 20 percent of all cardiologists who see adult patients. While women make up half of all medical school graduates and nearly half of internal medicine specialists, they are still underrepresented in the field of adult cardiology.

At Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates, our team of doctors includes a female, board-certified cardiologist who specializes in cardiovascular disease in women. Dr. Reynaria Pitts is a former preventive cardiology research fellow who specializes in cardiovascular disease, lipidology, cardiovascular disease prevention and rehabilitation.

Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates is committed to providing women and all patients with the best care and treatment for heart conditions and cardiovascular diseases. We are here to answer any questions you have about women’s heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease.