Understanding the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women

Women's Heart HealthAcross the country, medical institutions, companies and individuals will participated in National Wear Red Day®.  Although heart disease is typically thought of as a disease affecting men, heart disease in women kills more women than all cancers combined. While it is important to spread awareness, it is also important to help educate our friends, families and loved ones.

What are the risk factors for heart disease in women?

  • A family history of heart disease or heart attack
  • High total cholesterol or high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Age (55 or older)
  • Menopause
  • Metabolic syndrome (large waist size, elevated blood pressure, glucose intolerance, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides)
  • Mental stress and depression

What are the signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women?

Many people think the only sign of a heart attack is crushing chest pain. In women, often the symptoms are more subtle and less severe. However, even though the symptoms are different, the amount of damage a heart attack can cause is no less. If you experience the below symptoms or think you may be having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately.

  • Pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest
  • Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

How can women reduce their risk of heart disease?

  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet by decreasing saturated fat, cholesterol and salt and increasing fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains
  • Manage conditions that are risk factors for heart disease

For more information about heart health as well as tips for living a heart-healthy lifestyle, visit the Web site of the American Heart Association.

About Virginia Women’s Center
Virginia Women’s Center is a full-service women’s health care provider specializing in obstetrics, gynecology, urology, high-risk obstetrics, obstetrical genetic counseling, ultrasound, in-office procedures, mammography, bone health, psychology, nutrition and clinical research. The practice sees patients in four locations in the Richmond area and has additional offices in Kilmarnock and Tappahannock. For more information, visit www.VirginiaWomensCenter.com, or find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.