How Heart Disease Differs in Women

Gender can play a role in risk factors, symptoms.

Heart disease does not discriminate. It is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, claiming more than 600,000 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are gender differences that women need to be aware of.

During a heart attack, “time is muscle,” says Richard Krasuski, MD, a cardiologist in Cleveland, Ohio. “The quicker you get treated, the more heart you can salvage.” Being able to spot the first sign of an attack is critical, but that sign may not be one you typically think of.

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Heart Disease in African-American Women

Splashing a little bit of water on her face didn’t calm Shermane Winters-Wofford’s first date jitters. And then what she perceived as nervousness escalated into sweating and tightness in her chest.

Although she didn’t experience the typical warning signs, Shermane was having a stroke.

A stroke? How could it be? After all, she thought of herself as perfectly healthy. But it turns out Shermane had been at risk all along. Like many other African-American women, she had a strong family history of high blood pressure and heart disease. Unfortunately, she didn’t discover this until it was almost too late.

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Are We Reaching The End Of The Trend For Longer, Healthier Lives?