Women and Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, resulting in one in three deaths each year, according to the American Heart Association. Because symptoms of heart attack in women are different than in men, many women are likely to miss the signs of heart attack and are more likely to die from a heart attack then men. Saint Francis’s Heart Hospital is committed to raising awareness of women’s unique risk factors for heart disease.

Heart Attack Risk Factors for Women

Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Post-menopause

Signs of Heart Attack in Women

Women show different signs of heart attack than men. Women should watch for the following heart attack signs:

  • Chest pain/pressure
  • Weakness
  • Neck, jaw and/or shoulder pain
  • Pressure or pain in lower chest, upper back or upper abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Sweating
  • Extreme fatigue


Prevention is the key to avoiding cardiovascular disease. Saint Francis offers the following advice:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet
  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Monitor blood pressure regularly
  • Take a health risk assessment
  • Get a heart and health screening