Women’s Unique Heart Health

Cardiovascular health is an important part of your long-term health. All women should actively care for their heart’s health. Currently:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.
  • Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack
  • One in five American women have some sort of heart disease
  • Women experience different symptoms than men
  • Heart disease affects women of all races and ethnicities

In addition to these startling statistics, many women feel shameful or embarrassed to talk about their heart health. Many are fearful of seeking care or guidance, so they delay care. 

There is hope. Outcomes are significantly improved when you seek early care from an expert cardiologist. The Women’s Heart Program at Weill Cornell Medicine is here to provide comfort, support and world-class care.

You have more control over your heart’s health than you may think. When our patients learn more about their risk factors, specific conditions and how they can better care for themselves, they feel comforted and empowered. When you become a patient at the Women’s Heart Program, you and your doctor will work together to help you achieve optimum health so that you can enjoy a longer, healthier, more active and productive life.

When to Seek Cardiovascular Care

The Women’s Heart Program at Weill Cornell Medicine is here to help women improve their heart health at any stage of their adult life. Education and preventive care are highly effective in preventing heart disease and slowing heart disease progression. Seek out cardiovascular care as early as possible. 

We encourage you to learn more about becoming a patient at the Weill Cornell Medicine Women’s Heart Program if you:

  • Have a family history of heart disease
  • Have been diagnosed with heart disease
  • Have had a heart attack or other cardiovascular event
  • Want to learn more about ways that you can improve your diet or lifestyle to achieve greater cardiovascular health
  • Have one or more risk factors for heart disease

Cardiac Risks Factors for Women

Women have different risk factors for heart disease than men. If you have one or more of these risk factors, you will benefit from becoming a patient of the Women’s Heart Program at Weill Cornell Medicine:

  • Inflammatory disorders or rheumatologic disease (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Past high-risk pregnancy (gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia or low birth weight of the baby)
  • Certain chemotherapies and radiation therapies for cancer treatment (including breast cancer, ovarian cancer or lymphoma treatment)
  • History of premature menopause from natural or medical causes especially below the age of 40
  • Diabetes or prediabetes
  • Current or prior history of smoking
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperlipidemia/dyslipidemia
  • Family history of heart attack, stroke or sudden death, especially at an early age (less than 55 years old in a male relative or less than 65 years old in a female relative)

Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women

A common misperception is that intense chest pain is the only symptom of a heart attack. Be sure to look out for many other common signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women: 

  • Discomfort, tightness, pressure, fullness or feeling of squeezing in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or comes and goes
  • Strong chest pain
  • Pressure, pain or tightness in your shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw or arms
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Sudden paleness or clammy sweating
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness

If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to seek care at an emergency department as soon as possible. It is important to go to an emergency department where the physicians understand the unique symptoms of heart attacks in women.

Do not delay seeking medical attention out of embarrassment or fear. You can ask for an electrocardiogram (EKG) test or blood enzyme test to know definitively if you are having a heart attack or not.

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