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Heart Disease is very common in women. In fact, it is the number one killer of women. Approximately one woman per minute is killed by heart disease. What causes heart disease in women? Do all women have the same risk for heart disease? Are women from different ethnicities more at risk for heart disease? Do women with heart disease have the same symptoms as men? Can you really die of a broken heart? These questions are very important and we will attempt to answer them in this article. Understanding the facts about heart disease can help you spot the signs and protect you from this disease.


Heart disease symptoms tend to be different in women than in men. When most people look for symptoms of a heart attack, they look for chest pain. Women are more likely than men to more subtle heart attack symptoms that do not include chest pain. The reason for this may be because women often have blockages in the small arteries that supply blood to their heart rather than only in their main arteries. Common symptoms that are often reported by women include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Shoulder, neck or stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sweating

Types of Heart Diseases That Affect Women the Most

Women are more likely than men to be affected by the types of heart diseases below.

  • Broken Heart Syndrome-This condition occurs when your heart literally breaks. Extreme emotional stress leads to heart muscle failure. Women are much more likely to have this form of heart disease than men.
  • Coronary microvascular disease- This disease affects the heart’s smaller arteries. Women are more likely to have this form of heart disease, which is why they tend to have different heart attack symptoms than men.

Risk Factors for Women

Although some of the risk factors are the same for both men and women, such as being overweight and having high blood pressure, there are some things are more likely to cause heart disease for women.

Depression and Anxiety

Stress and depression play a much bigger role in the development of heart disease in women than in men. Both depression and anxiety make it hard to lead a healthy lifestyle and follow treatment recommendations by physicians. It is important to get help if you are depressed or under chronic stress.


During menopause, low levels of estrogen pose a risk factor for heart disease in women.

Being African American

African American women have higher rates of heart disease than Caucasian women. This is likely because there are higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes among African American women.

Can Women Reduce the Risk for Heart Disease?

Most women do not care for their heart as much as they should. Engaging in regular physical activity and eating healthy are two of the easiest things that you can do to take care of your heart. Here are some other important ways to prevent heart disease:

Manage Stress and Depression

High levels of stress and depression are related to heart disease. Talk to your physician or a counselor if you need help with depression or stress.

Weight management

This is a very important part of heart disease management. The benefits of weight management go beyond smaller clothing sizes. Excess weight increases the amount of work that your heart must do. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can improve the overall quality of your life.

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