• Women and Heart Disease

    Women and Heart Disease

    Many women don't realize it, but heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. In fact, the next seven causes of death in women do not add up to all the deaths caused by heart disease. Although women may have different or less obvious symptoms than men, they are just as much at risk. Take a few moments to evaluate your risk of heart disease and learn the symptoms to watch out for.

  • Heart and Vascular Disease

    Heart Attack Warning Signs in Women

    When a heart attack strikes, seconds count for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Any delay in treating your heart attack increases your chances of permanent, irreparable damage to your heart—and, it could cost you your life.

    Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)

    A simple test, called the ankle-brachial index, or ABI, can quickly and painlessly determine if you likely have peripheral artery disease (PAD), which means blockages in the blood vessels leading to your legs. PAD, also referred to as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), can cause discomfort or weakness while walking and, if severe and left untreated, can potentially lead to amputation of the leg or foot.

    Women and Stroke

    Stroke, the leading cause of disability in the U.S., like heart disease, is also a disease shared by women. Twice as many women will die of stroke than breast cancer each year. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, experts believe that as many as 80 percent of strokes could be prevented.

    Women and Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.)

    Women are more likely than men to have a condition called intermittent claudication, in which blockages in the limbs cause muscle pain during activity but stops during rest.

    Prevention of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    You likely know by now that more women than men die from heart disease each year. If so, you are a step ahead of many women. According to the American Heart Association, only 1 in 5 women believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat.

    Myths About Women and Heart Disease

    According to the statement from WIN consensus statement mixed messages from the media, as well as the tendency of the public and health care providers to underestimate the problem, are enormous barriers to heart health in women.

    Women and Cardiovascular Disease

    Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women, but as a woman, even if you know that, you’re probably too busy most days to think about it. But you should think about it, because what you do each day in part determines your risk for developing cardiovascular disease and suffering its life-threatening consequences. By thinking about it now, you can learn ways to reduce your risks, recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, and advocate to get the help you need.

    Women: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

    When you schedule checkups with your doctors, don’t neglect your heart. Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the United States. SecondsCount provides questions that can help you start a conversation with your doctor about cardiovascular disease.

    The Gender Gap in Cardiovascular Disease

    Unfortunately – and for reasons that aren’t entirely understood – women have not reached parity with men when it comes to complications and outcomes from heart disease treatment.

    Treatment of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    Though women and men are different, women benefit from the same types of treatment for cardiovascular disease as men, when appropriately applied. This is not to say that treatment should be “one size fits all” for women and men, but that the same kinds of treatment are effective.

    Risk Factor Modification and Lifestyle Changes for Women

    By now you’ve probably heard or read that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. But unless something causes you pain or interferes with your day-to-day activities, like most of us, you probably put it out of your mind. You might think, “I’m too young,” “I exercise every day,” or “I’ve always had really low cholesterol.” Please don’t think that for whatever reason you are uniquely immune.

    Diagnosis of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    As you can see, gauging your overall risk for cardiovascular disease is a challenging proposition, especially if you have multiple risk factors to test for and monitor. If possible, work with your doctor to manage your risks and stay on track with your goals for a heart healthy lifestyle.

    Women and Heart Disease

    One way to fight heart disease is to raise awareness among women and the medical community. For a variety of reasons, people continue to underestimate and overlook the prevalence and seriousness of heart disease in women.

    SecondsCount PAD Check: Are You at Risk?

    Use this easy-to-read flowchart to determine if you or someone you know may be at risk for PAD.

    Pregnancy and Your Heart

    Pregnancy and new motherhood present so much that is new for you to think about that your future heart health may not seem like an immediate priority. However, research is increasingly suggesting that certain complications during pregnancy may be a signal of future heart disease—and problems may be evident as soon as 10 years after pregnancy.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Coronary Microvascular Disease

    The questions in this section can help you start a conversation with your physician about microvascular disease. Take these questions with you to your appointment, write down additional questions that you have, and take notes on your physician’s responses.

    Women and Coronary Microvascular Disease

    Consider this scenario: You are a woman, admitted to a hospital with chest pain, and you undergo an X-ray imaging test called an angiogram to see if you have blockages in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. The test comes back clear, but you have been experiencing chest pain (angina), and another test - called a stress test - finds that portions of your heart are not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood. Both you and your physician know that something is wrong. Now what?
  • Treatment and Prevention

    Risk Factor Modification for Women

    By now you've probably heard or read that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. But unless something causes you pain or interferes with your day-to-day activities, like most of us, you probably put it out of your mind. You might think, "I'm too young," "I exercise every day," or "I've always had really low cholesterol." Please don't think that for whatever reason you are uniquely immune.
  • Tests and Diagnostics


    An angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that provides detailed, x-ray pictures of your heart and its blood vessels. It is performed by a specially trained cardiologist, called an interventional cardiologist.
  • Betty - Achieving a High Quality of Life at Any Age

    Betty didn’t realize the full extent of her heart disease symptoms, or how they were impacting her life, until after she was treated. Like many people with stable angina, she had curtailed her participation in activities she loved – like gardening and golfing – in order to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms that plagued her when she did them. To learn what led her to treatment, and how much she’s enjoying life now, read her story.

    Kathy - Heart Patient Seeks Help Despite Confusing Symptoms

    Kathy had what she calls “episodes” – relatively minor symptoms that came and went. A non-smoker who took care of herself, Kathy was doubtful when her doctor recommended testing her heart, especially when the results turned out to be mixed. Concerned about the results and the nagging symptoms, Kathy underwent cardiac catheterization, which revealed one of her main heart arteries was 95 percent blocked. Read her story to find out what happened next.

    Marianne Lawrence - Plans for Adventure Lead to Heart Disease Discovery

    Marianne thought her shoulder pain was the flare-up of an old skiing injury, but a stress test revealed serious cardiovascular disease requiring immediate care. She underwent angioplasty and stenting, followed by cardiac rehab. With “a new lease on life,” she realized a lifetime goal and became an advocate for women’s heart health. Read her story.

    Melissa – Knowing the Signs of Heart Attacks

    Heart attack was just about the last thing on 40-year-old Melissa’s mind. The active mother of two sons had just seen her doctor for a complete physical a few months earlier and had no symptoms that would indicate heart disease. When her heart attack struck, the symptoms weren’t typical. Read about how undergoing an EKG test showed she was having a heart attack and how she was successfully treated.

    Peggy Vardeman - Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Often Differ From Men’s

    Peggy Vardeman has had a number of heart-related health scare. Each time she has noted back pain, nausea and sweating, never the stereotypical crushing chest pain portrayed in the movies. “I’m a perfect example of women experiencing different symptoms than men,” she says. Read Peggy’s story to learn more about women and cardiovascular disease.