Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women. In 2000, more women died of heart disease than from stroke, lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and breast cancer combined. At every age group, more women die of heart disease than breast cancer. In fact, heart attacks kill six times as many women as breast cancer.
Women can experience heart disease differently than men. While most clinicians consider chest pain to be the most important symptom of a heart attack for both women and men, many women don’t experience chest pain during a heart attack. Women are somewhat more likely than men to have some of the other warning signs, particularly back or jaw pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting.
A woman’s chances of developing heart disease rise dramatically after she goes through menopause. More women than men will suffer a second heart attack within six years after their first heart attack. Women with diabetes are three to four times more likely than men to develop heart disease. Diabetes doubles the risk of a second heart attack in women.
Older women are particularly likely to develop high blood pressure. More than half of all women over age 60 have it.
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