Heart Disease & Women's Symptoms Heart Disease & Women's Risks heart disease and women's fitness heart truth

Heart disease is a man's issue, right? Wrong! Find out more about women and heart disease


The truth is North American women are more likely to die from heart disease than from any other disease.

A 2003 American Heart Association study of over 1,000 women conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc., revealed the shocking extent of women's lack of understanding of the dangers of heart disease and stroke. According to the results, just 13 percent of women in the US believe that heart disease and stroke are the greatest health threat to women. (Read Wanda's inspiring story of survival!)

So what are the facts?

According to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease who compiled data from the National Center on Health Statistics, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and American Heart Association:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death of American women and kills 32% of them
  • 8,000,000 (yes, that's 8 million) women in the US are currently living with heart disease - 10% of women ages 45 - 64 and 25% age 65 and over
  • 6,000,000 women have a history of heart attack and/or angina or both
  • 435,000 women in the US have heart attacks each year; 83,000 are under age 65 and 9,000 are under age 45 - their average age is 70.4
  • 43% of deaths in American women, or nearly 500,000, are caused by heart disease and stroke each year
  • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer
  • 31,837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, or 62.6% of all heart failure deaths

Compared with Men:

  • 38% of women and 25% of men will die within one year of a first recognized heart attack
  • 35% of women and 18% of men heart attack survivors will have another heart attack within six years
  • 46% of women and 22% of men heart attack survivors will be disabled with heart failure within six years
  • Women are almost twice as likely as men to die after bypass surgery
  • Women are less likely than men to receive beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, or even aspirin after a heart attack.
  • More women than men die of heart disease each year, yet women receive only:33% of angioplasties, stents and bypass surgeries28% of inplantable defibrillators and36% of open-heart surgeries
  • Women comprise only 25% of participants in all heart-related research studies.

The American Heart Association reports that:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) ranks first among all disease categories in hospital discharges for women.
  • Nearly 39 percent of all female deaths in America occur from CVD, which includes heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • In 2003, CVD claimed the lives of 483,842 females; cancer (all forms combined) 267,902.
  • Diagnosis of heart disease presents a greater challenge in women than in men.

And, on top of all of this, women are less likely than men to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation.

Add it all up - women and heart disease is something we all need to be aware of!


Women's Risk Factors - Are they different than men's?

Heart symptoms in women - Two important things you need to know.

Women's Fitness - Resources to help you get and stay fit.


The red dress is becoming an awareness symbol for women and heart disease.

To find out more:

In the US:

Go Red for Women

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute The Heart Truth

In Canada:

The Heart Truth


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