What Every Woman Should Know About Heart Disease

The No. 1 killer of women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is heart disease. For women, heart disease causes one of every three deaths each year, and yet only about half of the female population understands the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with heart disease. 

Not only are the causes and symptoms for women and heart disease drastically different from those experienced by men, but the outcome is far worse. A woman who experiences a heart attack is 50% more likely to die in the year following, and, if she survives, she is twice as likely to experience a second, more severe attack in the following six years.

At the practice of Jose L. Valdez, MD, in Santa Ana, California, preventing and treating heart disease in women is a top priority. Read on to learn what you can do to recognize and control your risk factors for heart disease.

Risk factors for women

The more you understand the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the easier it will be to recognize your risks. Some risk factors apply to both men and women, including:

There are, though, certain conditions that can increase a woman’s risk for developing heart disease, such as:

If these or any other risk factors are present and you take oral contraceptives, you may increase chances of developing heart disease.

Recognizing your symptoms

An estimated 64% of women who die suddenly from heart disease reported no symptoms. Unfortunately, many women brush off their symptoms as not getting enough sleep, eating the wrong foods, or pulling a muscle.


While many men say a heart attack feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest, this symptom is not typical for women. Women’s symptoms are usually more subtle. The most common symptoms of heart attacks in women are:

If you experience any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

Preventing heart disease 

Recognizing your risk factors for developing heart disease is important, but so is knowing what you can do to prevent heart disease. Here are some ways to improve your cardiac health:

If you have heart disease and need treatment or want to learn more about how to prevent heart disease, book an appointment over the phone with the practice of Jose L. Valdez, MD today.

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