Demystifying Women’s Heart Health 

Myth: Most women die from cancer

Fact: Women are six times more likely to die from heart disease than from cancer. Heart disease has been the leading cause of death for women in the developed world since 1908.

Myth: Heart disease is only a man’s problem

Fact: More women than men die from cardiovascular disease. The numbers have been falling slightly since 2013, but women are still twice as likely to die from a heart attack than men.

Myth: Only older women have heart disease

Fact: Heart disease is often 20-30 years in the making, so even if you think you won’t be affected until you’re older, the risk factors start early and don’t always spring up out of nowhere. Learning the signs early and reducing risk by not smoking and eating healthy are key to avoiding a cardiac event later in life. The rate of sudden cardiac death for women in their 30-40s is actually increasing faster than the rate for men in the same age range. Over the past decade the rate has risen by 30% Certain conditions, like preeclampsia, have now been shown to have a strong link to future heart attacks.

Myth: Most doctors know about women’s risk for heart disease

Fact: A 2005 study conducted by the American Heart Association showed that only 8% of family physicians and 17% of cardiologists knew that at the time of the study heart disease killed more women than men. Women are also much more likely to be discharged from the ER mid-heart attack. When women are under the age of 55, they are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed by ER physicians than males of the same age.

Myth: Women know how to talk to their doctors about heart disease.

Fact: In a recent survey of women with heart disease, it was revealed that only 35% had initially told their doctors about early heart-related symptoms and only 8% of these doctors received the information and recognized the problem as related to heart disease. Women are less likely than men to seek immediate medical health when experiencing cardiac symptoms.

Find out more in this American Heart Association study.