February marks a month of heart health awareness campaigns, and there's good reason for it. Read on for five important reasons that women, old and young alike, should pay attention to heart disease.
- It's the No. 1 killer of women: Breast cancer may get the attention (and is also a serious and potentially deadly disease), but far more women die each year of heart disease than breast cancer: while one in 31 women will die of breast cancer, the American Heart Association reports that one in three women will die of heart disease.
- Young women are having more and more heart attacks: A recent study that tracked over a million women for 12 years found that women were having more heart attacks at a younger age. The study also found that the women experienced atypical heart attacks with symptoms that were different than what we think of as normal heart attack symptoms (see below).
- 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease: Even if you are seemingly young and healthy, factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and genetics can contribute to your risk of developing heart disease.
- You may not have symptoms: Heart attack symptoms in younger women include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and back or jaw pain — not the normal striking chest pain that we think heart attacks should be like. But it's not just subtle symptoms; most women who die of coronary heart disease don't experience any symptoms at all.
- More women than men die of heart disease: It's a trend that's been continuing since 1984.
For more on heart health, check out the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign, and read our tips for avoiding daily habits that are bad for your heart here.