Women's #1 Health Threat: Hint -- It's Not Breast Cancer

Surveys indicate that few women think heart disease is their greatest health threat. Unfortunately, it’s our nation’s number one killer and women are its prime target. More than one out of every three women who die in the U.S. each year die of heart disease. In fact, more women die of heart disease than from all forms of cancer combined.

And yet, heart disease is still thought of as a man’s disease. In recent years, risk factors for heart disease in women have increased, and a 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology called the trend “the leading edge of a brewing storm.”

Add that to the fact that when women do have a heart attack, the symptoms often are mistaken for indigestion or something minor, and treatment is delayed. 

Plus providers are often less attuned to the risks of heart disease, especially if the woman is middle-aged or younger.

Risks of heart disease increase with smoking, birth control pills, high levels of stress, obesity and diabetes. For many women, heart disease begins to develop as early as the late teens.

So what’s a woman to do?

Prevention is the key. Here are some ways to lower your risk of heart disease:

  • Check your numbers: talk with your health care provider about your cholesterol, blood pressure and medical history
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Get active
  • Change your fats
  • Eat your fruits and veggies
  • Fiber up
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation

Read more about these tips and why they matter at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Health (e) Library. Test your knowledge with our Heart Quiz for Women Only. Or find a physician near you to get started on better health.  


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