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Women & Heart Disease Fact Sheet
Article brought to you by: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
Please follow links back to the Women Heart website for more information.
An estimated 44 million American women live with or are at risk of heart disease, but too many are unaware of the threat they face. The following illustrates the urgent need for greater awareness of heart disease in women and for immediate efforts to eliminate the disparities in women’s heart care.
Heart disease is the #1 killer of American women.
- Nearly one-third (27.2 percent) of all female deaths each year are from heart disease.
- Of the 500,000 annual deaths from cardiovascular disease, 267,000 women die from heart attacks—six times as many women as will die from breast cancer.
- The rate of sudden cardiac death in women in their 30s and 40s is increasing much faster than in men the same age—rising 30 percent in the last decade.
- The majority of Americans that die from congestive heart failure are women—more than 30,000 each year.
Heart disease is more common than you think.
- An estimated eight million American women currently live with heart disease, including 10 percent of women aged 45 to 65, and 25 percent of women over 65.
- Nearly half a million women have heart attacks each year.
Heart disease is more likely to strike—and kill—more American women than men.
- Within one year of a heart attack, 38 percent of women will die compared to 25 percent of men. Of those who survive, 35 percent of women will have a second heart attack compared to 18 percent of men.
Heart disease is more deadly for minorities and other women at risk.
- Women who are minorities, have diabetes, are overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are all at greater risk of heart disease.
- For African American women, the age-adjusted rate of heart disease is 72 percent higher than for white women. A majority of Hispanic women over 20 years old have borderline high or high cholesterol levels.
- American Indian women are 1.4 times more likely to be obese.
- Women with diabetes are two-to-three times more likely to have heart attacks.
- Women who smoke have heart attacks nearly 20 years earlier than non-smoking women.
Heart disease is more likely to be treated accurately in men than women.
- A study published in the May 2008 issue of the journal Heart showed that among heart patients, women were less likely than men to receive medications called beta blockers, statins and ACE inhibitors—which are crucial to prevent further heart problems.
- Women are also less like to receive ICDs (an implanted device that helps to control irregular heartbeats) or even aspirin, following a heart health event.
Heart disease is preventable.
Many women can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease if they have the information they need, know the questions to ask their health providers and receive the support to make heart-smart changes in their lives. Visit our Prevention and Early Detection section to learn more.