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Senior Woman With Adult Daughter

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) affects women differently than it does men. It tends to occur in women about seven or eight years later than in men. Women are about five years older on average than men are when they experience a first heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction. Why the differences? One reason is that women have built-in hormone protection in their premenopausal years: Estrogen helps shield women from heart disease by helping to raise good cholesterol levels and lower bad levels. Once a woman reaches menopause, her estrogen levels drop and her CHD risk rises.

Women don’t always suffer from the same heart attack symptoms as men and so may deny they’re having a heart attack. Women take longer—about a half-hour longer—to seek help at an emergency room. Consequently, they are also less likely than men to be admitted to the hospital for evaluation of coronary artery disease and tend to be underdiagnosed.

While women may be aware of the classic signs of an attack, such as chest pain radiating down the left arm and difficulty breathing, they aren’t aware of symptoms they are more likely to experience. In fact, one-third of women experience the following symptoms often with no chest pain at all:

Prevention
Many women aren’t aware that simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk of CHD. Both women and men can improve their heart health by getting back to tried-and-true basics:

shutterstock_40197652Heart disease symptoms to look out for:

Heart disease vs. breast cancer
Many women are more concerned about dying from breast cancer than they are from heart disease. But heart disease is the number one killer of women. Here’s how the two conditions compare.