Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although so many women are at risk, especially women who are past menopause, few recognize their risk factors and take steps to reduce them. If left untreated, coronary heart disease can lead to heart attack and heart failure.

Symptoms of a Possible Heart Attack for Women

The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. However, some women may have a heart attack without chest pain and women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain. These may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

If you experience the signs of a possible heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Learn about the Chest Pain Center at NNMC

Heart Disease Risk Factors for Women

Several conditions and lifestyle choices are heart disease risk factors for women, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol use

Tips for a Healthy Heart

There are many things women can do to reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease. Some general tips include:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a weight as close as to your ideal body weight as possible
  • Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends 20 minutes of exercise, three times a week, with warmup and cool down periods
  • Get screening and treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol