Heart disease is any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. There are multiple types of heart disease, which are typically categorized into four groups:
Among women 20 years and older, nearly 45% have some form of cardiovascular disease. Women over 60 are more likely than men to have hypertension, yet less likely to have it under control.2 Also, hypertension is more closely linked with heart attacks in women vs. men.3 1 in 3 women will develop heart disease at some point in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 8 who will get breast cancer.4
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., and is responsible for about 1 in every 5 female deaths.5 Many women don't know that heart disease is 7x deadlier than breast cancer,6 and that nearly 52% of high blood pressure deaths7 — otherwise known as hypertension or the “silent killer” — are in women. And while heart disease is often thought of as primarily a men’s health issue, since 1984 more women have died each year from heart disease than men.8 Overall, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.9
Cardiovascular disease is the most expensive chronic disease in the U.S. with an overall price tag of about $363 billion each year. 10
It’s important to be aware of what can increase women’s risk for heart disease and stroke in order to begin to take steps to reduce risk. Some of the top risk factors include:11
There are some common risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol that affect men and women. However, many people may not be aware that there are some risk factors that have sex-based differences that can put women at a higher risk, or that are unique to women.