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Eight Facts About Women's Heart Disease

Last updated: February 2022

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 disease is the number one killer of women in the United States? In fact, it is the cause of 1 in 5 women's deaths annually. If you want to take that one step further, cardiovascular disease kills a fifth of our sisters, friends, neighbors, 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. Despite the fact that cardiovascular disease kills more women than all cancers combined, 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 we need to know about cardiovascular disease and women that most people are unaware of:1

  1. Almost half of women older than 20 live with some form of heart disease and about the same percentage have a healthy heart going into pregnancy.
  2. Heart disease is the top killer of new mothers, accounting for at least 1 in 3 deaths. Black mothers are particularly susceptible.
  3. At least one in ten 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, and preeclampsia are at elevated risk of developing heart disease later in life.
  4. Many cardiac events, including strokes, could have been prevented by individuals enacting positive lifestyle changes like eating nutritious food, exercising more often, and keeping close tabs on their blood pressure.
  5. Women account for over half of all deaths resulting from hypertension (high blood pressure). Once again, black women are affected disproportionately, experiencing higher mortality rates than any other demographic.
  6. While there are more than 4 million female stroke survivors living in the United States today, almost 3/5 of stroke fatalities occur in women.
  7. It is sad to say, but women who require CPR in public are less likely to receive CPR from a bystander because potential rescuers fear they will be accused of injuring the victim or of sexual assault.
  8. Women are underrepresented in heart health research, making up less than 2/5 of participants in cardiovascular health trials.

Raising awareness

It is awful to say but, it is not a secret that women are treated differently by medical providers in general. The treatment is often even worse for minorities.

All that to say, 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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