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Women with heart disease can be affected differently than men. For instance, women are more likely to experience unique and even atypical symptoms of heart disease. Women also may not react the same to treatment that works for a man.
Cardiologists at the University Chicago of Medicine are experts in understanding the diverse challenges facing women with heart disease. We are committed to putting women at the forefront of heart care. We can be the health care partner women can trust to when they are wrestling with complex or worrisome conditions. And together, we will make the best decisions for your individual treatment.
Many women underestimate their risk for heart disease and overestimate their risk for cancer. But while cancer is a serious health concern, heart disease is far more common than cancer in women. In fact, nearly twice as many American women die of heart attack or stroke than from all forms of cancer combined – including breast cancer.
Women may underestimate their risk because heart disease is more prevalent later in life in women. On average, the risk of death due to heart disease in women is equal to that of men 10 years younger.
Women also experience heart disease differently than men. Often the signs and symptoms of heart problems – especially for coronary artery disease and heart attack – are overlooked as indigestion or hormonal changes.
Studies show that women are less likely to seek care when they experience chest pain or other symptoms of heart problems. This may be because women are often unaware of the sometime subtle signs of heart disease and heart attack.
Just as in men, chest pain is a common symptom for heart attack in women. But there are other, atypical signs that are more common in women than men. Women often report feeling short of breath, or having pain in the back, neck or jaw. Other frequently seen symptoms of heart attack in women are fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
The risks for heart disease in men and women are similar, though some risks are more serious for women. The major risk factors include:
Regardless of your age or if you are a woman or man, talk to your physician about heart disease. Ask your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk. Discuss your personal health history and inform your doctor if you have a family history of early death from heart disease. Fortunately, it's never too early or too late to reduce your risk.