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Women's Heart Disease Myths Dispelled

MYTH #1:  Young women (20+) don’t get heart disease.  It’s a disease that attacks only older women 50+

FALSE: Women over 20 are prime candidates for heart disease. 
FACT: More women 20+ die of heart disease each year than die of the next five leading causes of death combined. 

The death rate from heart disease in men has declined in the past few years.   On the other hand women are more than twice as likely to die within 24 hours after being hospitalized with a heart attack.


MYTH #2:  Women are more likely to identify the symptoms of a heart attack faster than men.

FALSE:  Women generally seek help for heart attack symptoms an hour later than men.

This is disastrous since, in both heart attack and stroke, time is of the essence and the sooner a woman seeks help, the better her chances for survival and complete recovery.


MYTH #3:  A woman can actually die from a broken heart,

TRUE:  Research finds that stress-induced CVD most often affects postmenopausal women who have recently suffered loss or shock at the death of losing someone close to them. 

Following the bereavement period, most women return to normal with no signs of heart tissue damage.


MYTH #4:  Hormones should not be used for the management of menopausal symptoms due to their harmful effects on heart health.

FALSE: Estrogen is considered most effective in treating menopausal symptoms. 

Formerly, hormone replacement therapy was prescribed only to relieve menopausal symptoms, until research showed that it increases the risk of blood clots and stroke, so today’s woman is questioning the safety of various menopause treatments.

Women should discuss treatment options and their risks with their physicians.

MYTH #5:  My uncle (mother’s brother) died of a heart attack at the age of 41.   Does that mean I’m likely to have heart disease also?

FALSE:  Today, heart disease is preventable by living a healthy lifestyle, including:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Not smoking
  • Avoiding sodas – diet or otherwise
  • Monitoring your cholesterol
  • Monitoring your blood pressure
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