Some fast facts about women and heart disease:
• Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women over the age of 25.• A woman suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds in the United States.• One in three women will die of heart disease.
Still think heart disease is a man’s disease? “Heart disease is devastating to women too,” says cardiologist Benita Burke, M.D., Medical Director of Valley Medical Group's Heart Care for Women practice in Ridgewood, NJ. “Unfortunately, most women are not aware of the dangers of heart disease, or of the steps they can take to reduce their risk for a heart attack or stroke.”
Further complicating the issue is the fact that the symptoms of a heart attack in women can be subtle. “Both men and women can experience the typical chest pain, pressure or discomfort, but women are somewhat more likely than men to experience more subtle symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, or extreme fatigue,” Dr. Burke says.
The good news is that if you seek help quickly, treatment can save your life and prevent permanent damage to your heart muscle. “Women tend to respond better to certain cardiac interventions then men, but they are underrepresented, likely due to atypical symptoms and under referring,” Dr. Burke says.
February is American Heart Month and February 6 is National Wear Red day, which focuses attention on heart disease in women.
Dr. Benita Burke is available for interviews focusing in heart disease in general and specifically heart disease in women.