Heart disease in women is different–more than you may know.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Today is National Wear Red Day, decrees the American Heart Association.  Women are supposed to wear red to remind us women have heart disease, too.  I’m not sure if men are to wear red or not, but I’m not taking any chances.  My running shoes I wear to work have red edges.

So I’m thinking, doesn’t everyone know by now women are at risk for heart attacks and strokes?  There are studies coming out all the time about women’s heart-attack symptoms being different from men’s, women being harder to diagnose in the ER, dying more often than men.

Then I went to the American Heart Association website and discovered new facts I didn’t know.  Conclusion? I will always have new things to learn about women.  It is a lifelong, unachievable quest, but I will not give up.

For instance, in 2003:

  • Nearly 39 percent of U.S. women’s deaths were from cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks, strokes and other heart disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease killed 483,842 (includes 233,866 from heart attacks) women, compared to 267,902 deaths from all types of cancer (includes 41,566 breast cancer and 67,894 lung cancer).
  • Within one year of a heart attack, 38 percent of women will die, but only 25 percent of men.
  • In women over age 65, a low HDL (good) cholesterol and/or high level of blood triglycerides are greater predictors of heart-disease death than in men.

How do you increase HDL and lower triglycerides?  Same old boring stuff like exercise, healthy weight maintenance and a diet low in saturated and high in mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Oh, smoking also lowers HDL.

Do you know a woman who had a heart attack or heart disease without the usual classic symptoms?

Be aware.

Image ©2007, American Heart Association. Also known as the Heart Fund.
Go Red and Go Red For Women are trademarks of AHA. The Red Dress Design is a trademark of U.S. DHHS.

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6 Responses to “Heart disease in women is different–more than you may know.”

  1. Sagan Says:

    Wow, those stats are really surprising. I haven’t had anyone close to me have a heart attack or heart disease, thank goodness, but it is so important to be aware of these issues. I’m wearing red today.

    Sagans last blog post..Junk Food vs. Indulgence

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Sagan. It does make you think.

  3. Blake Says:

    “Same old boring stuff like exercise, healthy weight maintenance…” I love how you said that. The fact of the matter is these “boring” things can help us so much! Thanks for sharing those statistics, I had no idea either.

    Blakes last blog post..The Same Thing Again — Change

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Blake.

  5. FatFighterTV Says:

    Thanks for bringing more awareness to this – I don’t think it gets nearly enough attention. My mom died of heart disease, so it’s near and dear to me.

    FatFighterTVs last blog post..It’s my birthday week, but it’s all about YOU! (B-Day Giveaway #1)

  6. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    I am sorry about your mom, fatfighter.

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