Women and Heart Disease
Perhaps the most troubling misconception involving heart disease and women is the mistaken belief that women do not develop this "man's problem." In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women. At one point, medical experts believed hormone therapy could reduce the risk. However, recent studies show this therapy actually increases risk for heart disease as well as for other health problems.
Many women think heart disease is a man's problem. But heart disease is very much a woman's problem -- in fact, consider these alarming statistics:
- Heart disease is the number one killer of American women.
- Six million women in the United States have heart disease.
- One in two women in the United States die from heart disease. Compare that to the 1 in 23 who die as a result of breast cancer.
- Women account for nearly one-half of all heart attack-related deaths.
- Thirty-eight percent of women will die within 1 year after having a heart attack.
- Within 6 years of having a heart attack, about 46 percent of women become disabled with congestive heart failure.
- Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery.
- Only 55 percent of women are aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. And, unfortunately, women are less likely to recognize the symptoms of heart disease.
What is even more worrisome is that increasing age is a factor in heart disease, and with people age 65 and over being the fastest-growing group in the United States, heart disease is becoming a growing problem for women. As a woman reaches menopause, her risks of heart disease and heart attack jump dramatically. One in 14 women between the ages of 45 and 64 has some form of heart disease, and this increases to 1 in 7 in women over 65.
Fortunately, there are things that women can do to decrease their risk for developing heart disease.