The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a man’s disease, almost as many women as men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
This map shows death rates from heart disease in women in the United States. The darker red indicates a higher death rate.
How does heart disease affect women?
Despite increases in awareness over the past decades, only about half (56%) of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.1
Learn more facts about women and heart disease:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 299,578 women in 2017—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths.2
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer as a cause of death.3
- About 1 in 16 women age 20 and older (6.2%) have coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease:4
- About 1 in 16 white women (6.1%), black women (6.5%), and Hispanic women (6%)
- About 1 in 30 Asian women (3.2%)
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Although some women have no symptoms, others may have5
- Angina (dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort)
- Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat
- Pain in the upper abdomen or back
These symptoms may happen when you are resting or when you are doing regular daily activities. Women also may have other symptoms, including5
Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until you have other symptoms or emergencies, including5
- Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath
- Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)
- Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins
If you have any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away.
What are the risk factors for heart disease?
High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of all people in the United States (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors.6
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
- Having overweight or obesity
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Drinking too much alcohol
How can I reduce my risk of heart disease?
To lower your chances of getting heart disease, it’s important to do the following:7
- Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Learn more about high blood pressure.
- Talk to your doctor or health care team about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your risk of heart disease.8 Learn more about diabetes.
- Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn ways to quit.
- Discuss checking your blood cholesterol and triglycerides with your doctor. Learn more about cholesterol.
- Make healthy food choicesexternal icon. Having overweight or obesity raises your risk of heart disease. Learn more about overweight and obesity.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink to one drink a day. Learn more about alcohol.
- Manage stress levels by finding healthy ways to cope with stress. Learn more about coping with stress.
CDC’s Public Health Efforts Related to Heart Disease
For more information on women and heart disease, visit the following websites:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office on Women’s Health (OWH)external icon
- American Heart Associationexternal icon
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)external icon
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Want to cook healthier? These 5 tips will help you slice and dice recipes to cut fats and sugars, but pump up flavors.
Most of us have gotten the message: Upping our quota of fruits and veggies, and lowering our intake of salt, sugar, processed foods and red meat is a good idea. But if you’re struggling to master the art of cooking for wellness, you’re definitely not alone.
Nutrition pros have developed many techniques and tricks that can help you modify recipes for healthier eating — and evidence-based research tells us they taste great, too.
These five tips will help you get started.
1. Start fresh, stay positive
Nutrition experts often recommend starting with some new-to-you recipes to launch your healthier eating journey. But you’ll soon be savvy enough to transform favorite recipes into healthier versions, too.
Remember: “Healthier” doesn’t mean “less tasty.” Keep your mind open to experiencing new flavors. Enjoy the process as you experiment with fresh ingredients and create dishes that don’t rely on fat and salt for taste.
2. Reduce fats, sugars and salt, increase herbs and spices
Most of us consume too much saturated fat. But fat adds flavor, so scaling back fat alone is not the answer. Studies have found, though, if you scale back fat and pump up flavor by adding herbs and spices, you can get the great taste you crave.
For instance, instead of 80 percent lean meat, choose 95 percent lean meat. Then, use a heavier hand with the basil, oregano, garlic and other favorite flavors for a really satisfying result.
Researchers have tried the approach with dessert, too. In one study, they cut the sugar content of apple crisp by more than a third, but added an extra jolt of Saigon cinnamon to compensate. It worked: Tasters liked that version just as much as the full-sugar original.
Build up your store of herbs and spices, set the salt aside and you’ve got a solid formula for healthier, tastier eating.
3. Swap this for that
Learn some basic ingredient swaps and you’ll instantly up your healthy cooking quotient. Here are just a few examples:
Heavy cream or half-and-half = fat-free half-and-half
1 egg = 2 egg whites
Garlic salt = garlic powder
Syrup = pureed fruit
Ground beef = extra-lean beef, or ground chicken or ground turkey
White rice = wild rice, pearl barley or bulgur wheat
4. Learn new cooking techniques
Beware the fryer! Eating a lot of fried food has been associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Instead, learn to bake, grill, steam and roast.
Pre-heat your saute pan. Adding cold ingredients to a cold pan results in drier, less tasty food; starting with a hot pan lets you sear in flavor.
5. Stock the right tools
Nonstick pan. Does your recipe call for sauteing vegetables in oil? Using a good nonstick pan, you can usually saute without added fat.
Steamer basket. Many top chefs steam fish, chicken or seafood atop a layer of aromatic herbs or vegetables for moist, flavorful results without adding fat.
Kitchen shears. Invaluable for snipping away fat from meat, cutting up dried fruit for sauces and toppings, or quickly clipping fresh herbs.
Armed with your new knowledge and a few essential techniques and tools, you’ll be able to tackle any recipe, and make it your way — the healthy, delicious way.
At Alpine Cardiology we are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart and our posts have been focused on doing just that. One area we haven’t touched on is the vital role family caregivers provide for our patients and the resources available. Caregivers may be spouses, partners, adult children, parents or other relatives. A Caregiver might do daily check ins on a loved one, provide 24 hour care or somewhere in between. Caregivers are critical partners in the plan of care for a patient with a chronic illness and often forget to care for themselves.
Caregivers hold it all together, but they also need support and to take care of themselves. As a caregiver, it is normal to feel isolated, at a loss and unsure of yourself sometimes. Staying both physically and mentally healthy can be almost impossible when your focus is taking care of a loved one.
Remember, you are not alone. Others have been down this same path and are willing to share their experiences and insights. The links below can be indispensable as you care for someone who has heart disease or who has experienced a heart attack, heart surgery or stroke. Don’t be afraid to talk to yours or your loved ones doctor about any concerns you may have or challenges you are facing in your caregiver role.
Otsego County Commission on Aging is a great resource for assistance in your community and hosts a caregiver support group at Otsego Haus in Gaylord. Link below for more information.