What Women Need to Know About Heart Disease
Think that breast cancer is the #1 killer of women? Think again. Heart disease is more deadly by far. Get the facts.
Fast Facts: Women & Heart Disease
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, taking more female lives than all cancers, respiratory diseases and Alzheimer disease combined.1
- Nearly 420,000 women died of heart disease, while 40,500 died of breast cancer in the U.S. in 2008.1
- Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.1
- Women’s awareness that heart disease is their leading cause of death increased from 30% in 1997 to 56% in 2012. However, only 42% of women aged 35 and older are concerned about heart disease.1
- After their first heart attack, 26% of women age 45 and older die within a year, compared to 19% of men.1
- At age 45, the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 1 in 2 women.1
- Some diagnostic tests and procedures, including the exercise stress test, might be less accurate in women then men.4
Fast Facts: Women & Risk Factors
- Many women of color, including Black and Latino Americans, are more likely to develop risk factors and are at a higher risk of death from heart disease, yet they are less likely to recognize their risks.2
- Among adults aged 65 and older, men (53.0%) were more likely than women (30.6%) to have quit smoking.1
- Only 3% of women between 20 to 59 years of age engage in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.1
- Black (80%) and Mexican-American (78%) women are more likely to be overweight or obese than White women (60%).1
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is 2 to 3 times more common in women taking oral contraceptives than in women not taking them.1
Take Charge of Your Heart Health
Although the statistics above paint a troubling picture of women and heart disease, all is not lost! There are three simple things you can do to reduce your risk for heart disease, starting today.
- Know your risk factors. Although your can't change your age or heredity, there are many other risk factors for heart disease that you can control.
- Talk to your doctor. At your next doctor's appointment, bring our list of questions and a heart health scorecard to help assess your risk for heart disease.
- Reduce your risk. Making simple, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for heart disease.
Download educational documents and presentations:
- Women & Heart Disease (Presentation)
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor (PDF)
- My Heart Health Card (PDF)
- Top 3 Myths About Heart Disease in America (Infographic)
Read related health topic articles:
- New Year, New You: Top 6 Heart-Healthy Resolutions
- "Think Again" About American Heart Month
- Think Again About Stroke This May
- Heart Smarts Cardiovascular Health Conditions
- Eat Better, Move More: Top Tips for Heart Health
- Six Basic Questions for Your Healthcare Provider
Get more facts about women and heart disease from:
This information is not a substitute for medical care. Please consult a doctor or health care provider.