Women and Heart Disease


Heart disease kills more women each year than ALL cancers, chronic lung disease, pneumonia, diabetes, traffic accidents and AIDS combined.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, but only one in 40 will die of it. One in every four women will die of coronary artery disease or heart attack. One-third of these womens’ heart attacks will go undetected. More than one out of five women will have some form of cardiovascular disease.

This disease claims the lives of more women than men each year, yet women only make up 25% of participants in heart-related research studies. While this is improving, women still remain under-represented in many studies that have set the standard for detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Even though valuable information about heart disease has been gathered, the model of detecting cardiovascular disease has been based on and designed for men. Not all the data have been applicable to women.


  • Women are more likely to have a heart attack without chest pain.
  • Women develop heart disease 10 to 15 years later than men, largely because of natural female hormone protection.
  • Unlike men with heart disease, some women, particularly younger women, who have a heart attack, do not have high levels of fatty plaque clogging their arteries.
  • Only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their #1 killer.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have not previous symptoms.
  • Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.


  • 38% of women and 25% of men will die within one year of a first recognized heart attack.
  • 35% of women and 18% of men heart attack survivors will have another heart attack within six years.


  • The age-adjusted rate of heart disease for African American women is 72% higher than for white women, while African-American women ages 55-64 are twice as likely as white women to have a heart attack and 35% more likely to suffer from coronary disease.
  • Women who smoke risk having a heart attack 19 years earlier than a non-smoker. Risk is increased by 700%.
  • Women with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have heart attacks.

So what can women do? Be smart — know your heart. If you have questions, meet with one of our expert cardiologists or call to schedule an appointment.