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Did You Know

  • Each year, heart disease kills more women than breast cancer and lung cancer combined, making it the leading cause of death among women.
  • Eight million women are currently living with heart disease in the United States.
  • Women are referred for cardiac testing less often than men.

Know the signs and symptoms.

Each year since the 1980s, more women than men have died of heart disease in the United States. And when it comes to a heart attack, men and women are different. Understanding the signs and symptoms of heart disease can help you reduce your risk, as well as know when to seek medical attention that, if obtained immediately (within an hour of a heart attack in some cases), can save your life.

Signs and Symptoms

Pre-Heart Attack Symptoms

Usually experienced four to six months to one week before a heart attack

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in shoulder blade or upper back
  • Chest pain
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest Pain While the most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain, not everyone experiences it during a heart attack — especially women. In fact, women often describe their chest pain as pressure, tightness or an ache.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea, Vomiting and Indigestion One study showed women twice as likely as men to experience these three problems as symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Back, neck or jaw pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness

What You Can Do

Know the Risk Factors and How to Reduce Them

Common risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and obesity. People with a family history of heart disease are also at a higher risk, and women should know that metabolic syndrome, mental stress and depression, smoking, and low levels of estrogen after menopause increase their risk of heart disease more so than men.

The good news is that women can reduce their risk of developing heart disease by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising 30 to 60 minutes per day on most days of the week, eating a diet low in saturated fat and not smoking.

Take our heart risk quiz to find out your numbers.

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