Back to Heart Foundation My List
0

My List Items




Welcome to My List. Some pages have items that you can add to this list. These can be shared with important people in your life, as conversation starters, or simply as an important list for yourself.





Congratulations, your list has been sent!


Your details

form sent

Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in New Zealand, yet most women don’t know this

Cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease is often perceived to be a ‘men’s’ disease, however even though it is the number one killer of men, it is also the number one killer of women around the world.

The warning signs

Women may have different heart disease symptoms than men

The symptoms of a heart attack for women can be vague and may not be recognised quickly enough by themselves or even by their health professional.

The good news is, women can take steps to become aware of the symptoms of heart disease and to begin to lower their risk of heart attack or subsequent heart attacks.

A common heart attack symptom in women is the feeling of tightness, pressure or discomfort in the chest. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main coronary arteries but in the tiny coronary artery blood vessels that branch off from the main coronary arteries. This is called microvascular coronary disease. However this discomfort may not always be severe or even the most noticeable symptom. Women may have a heart attack without chest pains or discomfort.

Women appear more likely than men to experience other heart attack symptoms with or without chest discomfort, for instance:

  • Jaw, neck, shoulder, upper back,abdominal discomfort or indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

Risk factors

There are a number of factors that are known to increase your risk of coronary heart disease and having a heart attack. These are called risk factors. To find out more about risk factors, click here.

Smoking, being overweight or obese, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as a family history of heart problems, all contribute to an increased risk of heart attack. It is important to note that in many cases women are more vulnerable to these risk factors than men. This is due the following reasons:

  • Nicotine is metabolised faster, so smoking creates a bigger risk for women
  • The presence of diabetes increases a woman’s risk of heart disease
  • A family history of heart disease can be a stronger predictor in women
Did you know?

Did you know that women are seven times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer.

Menopause and heart disease

Following menopause, a woman’s risk of heart disease usually increases as a result of risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and being overweight.

Menopause is a natural event that occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs, and the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. A woman is said to be in menopause once her menstrual cycle (period) has stopped for more than 12 months. The average age that most women go through menopause is 52.

Did you know?

It has generally been acknowledged that oestrogen supplements prior to menopause do provide some protection against heart disease and stroke. Find out more about how you can manage your risk factors by clicking here.

What happens to your body after menopause?

There are a number of effects of menopause on a woman’s body:

An increase in:

  • Low density lipids (‘bad’ cholesterol), which raises overall cholesterol blood levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Body fat
  • Insulin resistance – which can prevent the body from breaking down sugars and thereby increasing the risk of developing diabetes

A change in:

  • Metabolism, which can create a number of problems, e.g raised blood pressure, cholesterol and increased weight
  • Body fat distribution.  Fat deposits around the torso (as opposed to the hips) increases the risk of heart disease, even in women of a normal weight
Did you know?

Nearly two-thirds of deaths from heart attacks in women occur among those who have no history of chest pain.

Add to My List

Speak to my health professional about risk factors

Everything is dependent on my heart, mechanically, electrically, physiologically, emotionally and passionately. Whatever happens it all comes back to how well your heart performs in all areas.Helen Thompson-Carter
Helen Thompson-Carter
0
WORLDWIDE 8.6 MILLION WOMEN DIE FROM HEART DISEASE EACH YEAR, ACCOUNTING FOR A THIRD OF ALL DEATHS IN WOMEN
0
WOMEN WHO SMOKE CIGARETTES ARE THREE TIMES AS LIKELY TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK AS WOMEN WHO DONT SMOKE.
0
ON AVERAGE, MORE THAN 50 WOMEN LOSE THEIR BATTLE WITH THE DISEASE EVERY WEEK, AND WHAT'S WORSE IS THAT MOST OF THESE DEATHS ARE PREMATURE AND PREVENTABLE.

Continue the journey

What causes a heart attack?
Find out what can increase your risk of heart attack
Read more
How the heart works
Find out how this powerful muscle keeps you going
Read more

Share this page