Heart Disease in Women: Answers to All Your Questions

heart disease in women

Did you know that cardiovascular disease, not breast cancer, is the leading cause of death among women in the United States? Although heart disease in women does not discriminate, African American and Hispanic women are especially at risk.  If living healthy is one of your goals for 2021, learn the answers to the questions you have (and those you didn’t know you had) about heart disease.

Do Women Need to Worry About Heart Disease?

In the past, many considered heart disease to be a “man’s disease.” In recent years, this misconception has been disproven. The development of heart disease has less to do with gender and more to do with an individual’s risk factors and family history.

Every year, about the same number of women and men die of heart disease. However, women are less likely to survive their first heart attack and have a higher risk of stroke.

What are the Most Common Risk Factors of Heart Disease?

Women who live with certain risk factors have a higher likelihood of developing heart disease. The three most commonly associated with cardiovascular problems are:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Smoking

Other risk factors are:

  • Diabetes
  • A Diet High in Saturated Fats and Cholesterol
  • A Family History of Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Excessive Alcohol Use

Learn more about heart disease in women

What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women?

Learning to recognize the symptoms of heart disease could help save your life one day. Women can sometimes have different warning signs than men.

Rather than chest pain, women may experience different signs and symptoms, such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue. Symptoms like these often come before a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

Are Women in Minority Groups More or Less at Risk?

Any woman can develop heart disease, but those in certain ethnic groups may be more likely to be diagnosed with it.

African Americans

  • Cardiovascular diseases lead to nearly 50,000 deaths of African American women annually
  • Among African American women ages 20 and above, almost half of them have heart disease


  • Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years before non-Hispanic women

Do Young Women Need to be Concerned?

Older women are not the only ones who develop heart disease.

Although it is less common, younger women may also be affected. Smoking, overeating, a sedentary lifestyle and other unhealthy behaviors, can increase heart disease risk.

Heart disease in women in very common today

What Can Women Do to Reduce Heart Disease Risk?

Whether you are at high risk or not, living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. By practicing healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, you can better manage your risk factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol.

Learn More About Living Healthy

At Family Health Centers, your health is our mission. During February’s American Heart Month, we encourage all women to practice healthy living. We provide a wide range of women’s health services available to all regardless of your insurance status or ability to pay. Request an appointment today to visit one of our conveniently located health centers in Nassau County!

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