Many women perceive heart disease as a “man’s disease,” but did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of U.S. women?  Few women consider this disease a major health concern, but here, at Wiles, we want you to know the facts, as well as the steps you can take to minimize your risk from suffering from this preventable yet deadly disease.


  • More than half a million women die of cardiovascular diseases each year.
  • There are about 60,000 deaths from breast cancer annually, compared to 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease.
  • Every year more women than men die of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
  • Women are also more likely than men to die from a heart attack, and to die after a procedure in which the artery is opened – such as a stent or a balloon angioplasty.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • The number one preventable risk factor for coronary artery disease among women, particularly young women, is smoking.
  • Family history is important, though obviously that isn’t something we can control.
  • Controllable risk factors include high blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol.
    • Women over the age of 20 should know their cholesterol numbers.
    • Other factors are sedentary lifestyle, obesity and adult onset diabetes, a condition in which sugar is not metabolized properly.

Typical symptoms a woman experiences when she’s having a heart attack

  • Chest discomfort.
    • This discomfort doesn’t have to be severe pain; it can be pressure that radiates up to the neck and may radiate into the back or shoulders or down the arm.
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, light-headedness and palpitations — the heart seems to be racing.
  • Nausea and shortness of breath can be particularly prominent symptoms in women.
  • Women may have a little chest pressure, but they’re focusing on the nausea and the physician starts going down that path.

Protection and Preventative Measures

  • Know the risk factors: Don’t smoke, exercise more, and monitor your diet.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heart disease.
  • Be your own biggest advocate and ensure that you get a proper diagnosis and proper treatment in the event that you are diagnosed with heart disease.


For more information about how to stay heart healthy, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.


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