Heart disease has traditionally been seen as a man’s problem, but the yearly mortality rate attributed to coronary disease is about equal between the sexes.
According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a woman has a greater chance than a man of dying from a first heart attack, yet most women believe that their number one health risk is breast cancer.
The Mayo Clinic notes that women are more likely than men to visit the ER after significant coronary damage has already occurred. This may be because the symptoms of heart disease in women can be vastly different from men’s symptoms. Women often attribute more subtle signs like nausea, fatigue and dizziness to a minor ailment, making it less likely for them to seek immediate medical attention.
Alarmingly, 64 percent of women who die suddenly from coronary disease have no previous symptoms (CDC). Some symptoms, when they do occur, are as follows:
- Heart attack: chest pain, indigestion, upper body discomfort and nausea are a few symptoms in women.
- Arrhythmia: an abnormal heart rhythm that’s typically experienced as what are commonly known as palpitations, often felt as “flutterings” in the chest.
- Heart failure: often experienced as shortness of breath and swelling of the legs, feet and abdomen.
- Stroke: sudden weakness or numbness, particularly on one side of the body, severe headache, difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes, and difficulty speaking are often symptoms.
Prevention is an important part of avoiding heart disease. Limiting alcohol and avoiding tobacco, as well as eating a balanced diet and participating in daily exercise are some important things women can do to lower their risk of coronary disease.
On October 17, 2013 Einstein Montgomery Medical Center will be hosting a free Ladies Night Out. The event includes light refreshments, as well as complimentary healthcare screenings, including blood pressure and pulmonary function screenings. Information sessions, including “Women & Heart Disease: Know Your Risks,” as well as fitness, healthy eating and stress management demonstrations will also be included in the night’s activities.
 Mosca L, Mochari-Greenberger H, Dolor RJ, Newby LK, Robb KJ. Twelve-year follow-up of American women’s awareness of cardiovascular disease risk and barriers to heart health. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality Outcomes. 2010;3:120-7.