Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women globally each year.

There are many factors that can increase a woman’s risk of heart disease, and they are much more than just the obvious factors like age or weight. But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men.

There are several misconceptions about heart disease in women

Heart disease affects women of all ages.  For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. And while the risks do increase with age, things like overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life. But even if you lead a completely healthy lifestyle, being born with an underlying heart condition can be a risk factor.

women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.


For young women oral contraceptives are usually safe. However women who smoke while they take the contraceptive pill greatly increase their risk of heart disease, stroke and blood clots in their legs and lungs. Having a family history of cardiovascular disease will add to this risk.

For young women with a known history of heart or blood vessel disease its best to discuss the use of oral contraception with your doctor first.