According to the Centers for Disease Control, coronary heart disease, not cancer, is by far the leading cause of death among women in the United States. Although so many women are at risk, and that risk increases after menopause, few recognize the risk factors and take steps to reduce them. If left untreated, coronary heart disease leads to heart attack and heart failure.

Possible Warning Signs for Women

In addition to the general heart attack warning signs, women should also be aware of the following possible symptoms. Not all of these warning signs occur in every attack. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Sudden weight gain. For example: three or more pounds in one day, five or more pounds in one week
  • Shortness of breath not related to exercise or exertion
  • Increases in swelling of the ankles or legs
  • Abdomen swelling or pain
  • Difficulty sleeping or shortness of breath when waking
  • Frequent hacking or dry cough
  • Increased fatigue

There several things that women can do to reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease:

  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise (the American Heart Association recommends 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week with warm up and cool down periods)
  • Be screened and treated for high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol

Learn about the Cardiac Care Institute at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center >