Prevention of Heart Disease in Women

Heart attacks have plagued our society for years and years but think back to the last heart attack you saw portrayed on television whether it was in a commercial, movie, or TV series. I would be willing to bet that chances are, a picture of a middle-aged male clutching his chest and turning very red in the face just popped into your head. Classically, most people think of heart disease as a “man’s disease”. When we think of women with an illness we seem to envision them dying from breast cancer and our society has reinforced that through stereotypes on television.

However, the fact is that heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year (compare to only 1 of 31 American women die from breast cancer yearly). That’s approximately one woman every minute! It doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. Minority women including Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to develop heart disease much earlier than Caucasian women. Most surprisingly, almost 50% of African American women aged 20 and older have cardiovascular disease!

And heart disease affects women of all ages and body types. Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon-running workout fiend, your risk for heart disease isn’t completely eliminated. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. And while the risks do increase with age, things like overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life.

Heart attacks also may present differently in women than men. If you have an uncomfortable squeezing, fullness or pain in your chest that radiates to your arm, jaw, belly, back, or neck this may be a sign of a heart attack. Other women may only feel short of breath or fatigue. And others will only be nauseated. But as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.

So what can anyone do to prevent heart disease? For starters, stop smoking if you are and avoid second hand smoke. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure manage your condition and get it under control. Lower your cholesterol and know your family history. If heart disease runs in your family, chances are you have a high risk of getting it and need to pay special attention to your diet and exercise regimen. And of course manage your stress, lose weight and eat healthy. These remain the cornerstones of good health.

If you or a loved one is concerned about your cardiovascular health, don’t forget about giving Heal a call. One of our licensed physicians will be at your home within an hour of your request to review your medical records, lifestyle choices, and provide some practical recommendations for what you can do to help prevent the onset or progression of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Sandeep Krishnan is a board-certified internist and is on his way to becoming a board-certified cardiologist. He has a specific interest in preventative and interventional cardiology, cardiac imaging, and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. He completed his residency training at Emory University Hospital, a top internal medicine training program in Atlanta, GA and is doing his cardiology fellowship at the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute, the premiere location for cardiovascular care west of the Mississippi. When he is not Healing broken hearts, Dr. Krishnan can be found jumping out of planes, snowboarding down mountains, and scuba diving coral reefs.

All information for this blog post was obtained through the American Heart Association’s website. If you want more information on heart disease in women please visit and

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an independent physician, and do not necessarily represent those of Heal. You should not assume or construe that this blog post represents the opinion of Heal. In addition, although this blog post provides information concerning potential medical issues, it should not be relied upon as medical advice. It is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified, licensed physician and does not replace a physician’s independent judgment about any given patient’s condition or appropriateness or risks of any treatment or procedure. Rather, this blog post is solely for general educational and informational purposes. Your reading of this blog post does not create any physician-patient relationship between you and the author.

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