Eight Facts About Women's Heart Disease
Last updated: March 2023
Most months of the year are used as a time of awareness for a certain disease. That said, February is known as American Heart Month as well as Women's Heart Awareness Month.
Heart disease and women
Did you know that cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease is the number one killer of women in the United States? In fact, it is the cause of 1 in 3 women's deaths annually. If you want to take that a step further, cardiovascular disease kills a third of our sisters, friends, and coworkers. The women we would be lost without.1,2
Women are clearly highly impacted by heart disease while perhaps not realizing the risk. Cardiovascular disease kills more women than all cancers combined. But less than half of women realize that cardiovascular disease is their greatest health risk.2
Eight facts to know
Let's take a look at 8 facts about cardiovascular disease and women that most people are unaware of:1
- Almost half of women older than 20 live with some form of heart disease. About half have a healthy heart going into pregnancy.
- Heart disease is the top killer of new mothers, accounting for at least 1 in 3 deaths. Black mothers are particularly susceptible.
- At least 1 in 10 women will have some kind of health problem during the course of their pregnancy. It has been found that those who have gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and preeclampsia are at elevated risk of developing heart disease later in life.
- Many cardiac events, including strokes, could be prevented by lifestyle changes. Examples include eating nutritious food, exercising more often, and keeping close tabs on your blood pressure.
- Women account for over half of all deaths resulting from high blood pressure. Once again, Black women are affected disproportionately, experiencing higher mortality rates than any other group.
- There are more than 4 million female stroke survivors living in the United States today. Almost three-fifths of stroke fatalities occur in women.
- Women who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in public are less likely to receive it from a bystander. This is because potential rescuers fear they will be accused of injuring the woman or of sexual assault.
- Women are underrepresented in heart health research, making up less than two-fifths of participants in cardiovascular health trials.
It is awful to say, but it is not a secret that women are treated differently by doctors in general. The treatment is often even worse for minorities.
Bottom line: If you are a woman and believe you may be suffering from a heart attack or stroke, stand your ground and demand the treatment you deserve. By raising our awareness as a collective, we can give ourselves the best chance of staying healthy and even staying alive.
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