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Women and heart disease

Do you know your risk for heart disease?

Almost all women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease. At Novant Health, we can help you identify your risk factors and lower your risk.

Are you at risk for a heart attack? You could be at greater risk if one or more of these factors apply to you:

  • Menstruation has stopped
  • Smoker
  • Family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol

Heart attack warning signs and symptoms for women include:

  • Pressure, fullness, tightness or pain in your chest lasting five minutes or longer
  • Constant indigestion-like discomfort
  • Chest pain that moves to your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, sweating or nausea / vomiting
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or tiredness
  • Palpitations, a cold sweat, or paleness
  • Sudden racing heart sensation with a very fast pulse
  • Inability to perform household chores

A recent study sheds new light on just how differently women experience heart attacks compared to men. A survey of more than 500 women found that 95 percent had specifically new and different symptoms up to a month prior to their heart attacks. Surprisingly, fatigue and problems sleeping topped the list. More than 70 percent of the patients experienced no chest discomfort, as most men do.

Most common symptoms reported by women in the month prior to a heart attack include:

  • Unexplained or unusual fatigue – 71 percent
  • Sleep disturbance – 48 percent
  • Shortness of breath – 42 percent
  • Indigestion – 39 percent
  • Anxiety – 35 percent

If you have additional questions about women and heart disease, please call the Novant Health facility in your area.