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Care For Yourself - Information for the Public - Heart Disease and Stroke

Heart Disease Facts

Taking a blood pressure reading
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. In 2006, 315,930 women died from it - more than one in every four.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian American women, heart disease is second only to cancer.
  • Almost two-thirds of the women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Stroke Facts

  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes someone dies of stroke.
  • Ischemic strokes, which occur when blood clots block the blood vessels to the brain, are the most common type of stroke, representing about 87% of all strokes.
  • In 2010, stroke cost the United States an estimated $53.9 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and missed days of work.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability

Heart Disease and Stroke Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s change of getting heart disease, stroke or another disease.

Finding heart disease and stroke risk factors early is very important. Heart disease and stroke risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Alcohol use
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Poor Diet
  • Race
  • Smoking

As women we cannot control age, race or family history, but we can change our nutrition intake, physical activity, tobacco habits, and weight control as needed.

Early detection could save your life!

Not all heart attacks and strokes can be prevented, but finding risk factors early means earlier treatment. Earlier treatment can mean a better outcome.

Warning Signs of Heart Attack & Stroke in Women

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  • Chest Discomfort - Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in Other Areas of The Upper Body - Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of Breath - With or without chest discomfort.
  • Other Signs - May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light headedness.
  • The most common heart attack symptoms for women are chest pain or discomfort. Women are more likely than men to be short of breath, have nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Symptoms can start as mild discomfort and progress to significant pain. If you think you are having a heart attack, DO NOT DELAY. Treating a heart attack quickly is very important.

CALL 9-1-1 if these signs are present!

Stroke Warning Signs

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you think you are having a stroke, DO NOT DELAY. Treating a stroke quickly is very important.

For additional information about heart attack and stroke warning signs, please visit: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/hpcdp/hdsp_iowans.asp