About Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease is often thought to affect men more than women; however, it is the number one cause of death for women in the United States. Some risk factors, such as smoking, actually put women at a greater risk for a heart attack than men.

Am I at risk for heart disease?

Understanding your level of risk is the first step towards prevention. Many risk factors can be managed with the help of a physician. Common risk factors for heart disease in women include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Psychological or emotional stress
  • Age
  • Race

Can I prevent heart disease?

Up to 90% of heart disease can be prevented.

One of the first steps towards heart disease prevention is getting a heart disease risk assessment. Your physician will look at blood pressure, cholesterol and ask questions about lifestyle to determine your level of risk. There are many ways to manage some risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Whether or not you are at high risk for heart disease, making heart-healthy lifestyle choices decreases everyone's chances of having a heart attack. These include:

  • Adding exercise to your daily routine
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats
  • Avoiding saturated or trans fat, added sugars, and high amounts of salt
  • Quitting smoking

Treatment of Heart Disease

Heart disease treatment is similar for men and women and may include lifestyle changes, medications, interventions such as angioplasty and stenting, or coronary bypass surgery. Your physician may recommend cardiac rehabilitation as part of your treatment. Treatment is ongoing and involves regular contact with your physician.