Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease


Despite an increase in awareness over the past decades, only about half (56%) of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 314,186 women in 2020—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths.


For Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian women, heart disease is second only to cancer as a cause of death.


About 1 in 16 women age 20 and older (6.2%) have  coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United State



Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until you have other symptoms or emergencies, including:

  • Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)
  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins


What You Can Do for Heart Health


To lower your chances of getting heart disease, it’s important to:

  • Manage your stress levels. Find healthy ways to lower your stress levels. Learn more about coping with stress.
  • Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Learn more about high blood pressure, including high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Check for diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. Learn more about diabetes, including gestational diabetes.
  • Know your cholesterol status. Knowing your cholesterol status can help you stay in control of your health. Learn about getting your cholesterol checked and why it is important.
  • Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn about how to quit smoking.
  • Be physically active. Try to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity each week. Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. Learn more about physical activity.
  • Choose healthy foods and drinks. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and eat fewer processed foods. Learn more about healthy eating.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Women of legal drinking age should either avoid alcohol or drink one or less alcoholic drink per day. Learn more about alcohol use.


Source: CDC