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Heart Disease Statistics for Women

written by: BStone • edited by: Stephanie Mojica • updated: 3/17/2011

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for women. Looking at the statistics on heart disease can help women understand the importance of taking care of their cardiovascular health.

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    Heart Disease and Women

    There is a sort of stereotype with heart disease and heart attacks, that this very serious condition mostly affects men and more specifically the type-A types who enjoy a hearty steak and a glass of bourbon for dinner. But the truth is that heart disease can affect anyone, and women are far from excluded. It is the number one cause of death and disability for women living in the United States. Take a look at these heart disease statistics for women and decide for yourself if managing your health with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices is worth the effort.

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    Statistics

    Heart disease is usually caused by narrowed, hardened arteries. When the coronary arteries become blocked due to this narrowing and possibly with the formation of a blood clot, blood supply to the heart is stopped and a heart attack can occur. Eating a diet that is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fatty fish and low in saturated fat can help lower the risk of heart disease. Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking is also essential to promote good heart health for life. The following statistics will hopefully inspire more women to adopt a healthier lifestyle:

    • More then one-third of women in America will die of heart disease.
    • More then 200,000 women die each year from a heart attack in the United States; more than 159,000 die from congestive heart failure.
    • 8.6 million women worldwide die each year from heart disease.
    • Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack will not make a full recovery.
    • 22 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 69 who have a heart attack and survive will face another one within five years.
    • A women's risk of heart disease increases with age.
    • African-American women are more likely to have a heart attack then other ethnic groups.
    • Diabetes doubles a woman's risk of having a heart attack.
    • Smoking greatly increases a women's risk; women who smoke increase their chances of having a heart attack 19 years earlier then women who do not smoke.
    • High blood pressure, which is more common in obese women and those who are taking oral contraceptives, increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 3.5 times.
    • Women tend to experience less noticeable symptoms of a heart attack than men. 71 percent experience early warning signs that include sudden, extreme weakness; chest pain is often not present.
    • Two-thirds of women who die from a heart attack had no history of chest pain.
    • For women under the age of 50, a heart attack is twice as likely to be fatal as is the case with men under the age of 50.
    • More women die each year from heart disease then men.
    • Women are less likely then men to seek the appropriate treatment after having a heart attack.
    • Women are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after having a heart attack.

    These heart disease statistics for women very clearly demonstrate that heart disease and dying from a heart attack are serious and real threats to women, even more so then men. Factors such as obesity, family history and smoking habits play a large role. Do what is within your power to maintain your heart health and if you are experiencing warning signs, seek immediate medical attention.

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    References

    MedlinePlus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartdiseaseinwomen.html

    American Heart Association, http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4786

    The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, http://www.womenheart.org/resources/cvdfactsheet.cfm

    Women's Heart Foundation, http://www.womensheart.org/content/HeartDisease/heart_disease_facts.asp