The End of Heart Attacks: An Empowering Guide for Women

According to the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and accounts for over 375,000 lives lost per year. For women in minority populations the risk of death from heart disease is even higher. Every year, heart disease causes more deaths in the United States than accidents, homicide, diabetes, and all forms of cancer combined, and the cost of cardiovascular disease and stroke exceeds $310 billion annually.

So, why is empowering women to care for their heart so important?

Unlike my male patients who may complain of chest pain, abdominal pain, indigestion, dizziness, and shortness of breath which are often telltale signs of a heart attack, many women may have heart attacks without the classic symptom of chest pain and many reported only fatigue. A woman’s heart attack can be subtle, vary from person to person, and classic signs may be nonexistent in some cases. With knowledge and awareness of risk factors and symptoms (or lack thereof) you will be empowered to become a partner in your heart health, and in turn empower others to do the same.

Symptons of a Heart Attack for Women

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Some risk factors for developing heart disease such as age, heredity, and gender cannot be controlled. However, the following 6 major risk factors are controllable:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Being overweight and obese
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure

Your chances of developing heart disease are higher the more risk factors you have. The positive news is empowered with good information you can take control of your health, prevent heart disease, and live healthy. Remember these simple “Four E’s” to promote your heart health:

Exercise – Exercise is essential for heart health. Talk with a health care professional before you begin any exercise program, and simply walking more each day is a great start. Regular daily exercise of 20-30 minutes reduces blood pressure, and can lower cholesterol, burn body fat, relieve depression, and increase confidence and self-esteem.

Eat Healthy – A balanced diet low in salt, fats, and cholesterol is the recipe for heart health. Moderation is the key to healthy eating. Too much salt, fat, and cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Increased intake of fiber, and water rich fruits and vegetables keep your weight under control and increases your energy.

Eliminate – Tobacco smoking, (including secondhand smoke) led to over 6.2 million worldwide deaths in 2010.  The chemicals in tobacco products damage heart vessels and restrict the flow of life-giving blood to the heart. Not smoking eliminates one of the top risk factors that contribute to heart disease.

Empowerment – Take action. Assess and control your risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol level and be empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices. Become your own healthcare advocate. Ask informed questions of your doctors and healthcare providers and be a partner in achieving total heart health.

For more information, visit:

“A Woman’s Heart Attack: Why and How It Is Different than a Man’s Heart Attack”:


The American Heart Association:


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