HCA Midwest Health - January 21, 2021

Heart care designed specifically for you

Women don't often think of themselves as having heart disease. Many women falsely feel that it's only a male disease. But cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. In fact, more women die of heart disease each year than all types of cancer plus other diseases combined, more than 11 times that of breast cancer.

At HCA Midwest Health, many of our Kansas City cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating women with heart disease. Women often focus on caring for others and don't put themselves and their health first. They also have smaller arteries and often present with symptoms later in life. This can cause women not to get the treatment they need early enough. Pregnancy related complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia can be predictors that help identify women who are at higher risk of heart disease. Our cardiologists can identify these precursors and help you take preventive measures earlier in life - rather than waiting until the disease develops.

Our heart specialists use the latest technology and advanced treatments to care for patients in a personal and comforting environment. They are committed to working with your primary care and specialty care physicians to ensure you receive the seamless and complete care you deserve. Our cardiologists specializing in women often work alongside oncologists at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute HCA Midwest Health to treat breast cancer patients and help choose therapies that can best treat the cancer while preserving the heart.

Find a Cardiologist in Kansas City

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

The most common heart attack symptom in both men and women is chest pain. But it isn't uncommon for many women to suffer a heart attack without feeling pain or pressure in the chest. Many women experience other more subtle symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling weak or more tired than usual
  • Dizziness
  • Upper back pressure
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pain in the lower chest or upper stomach
  • Discomfort in neck, jaw or one or both arms
  • Cold sweat

Many women often mistake their symptoms for other less serious conditions like heartburn, stress or the flu. But subtle symptoms don't mean the heart attack is any less dangerous. And women of all ages are at risk. The occurrence of myocardial infraction (heart attack) in women increases dramatically after menopause, but nearly 9,000 women under 45 years of age suffer a heart attack each year. That's why it is so important to know all the signs and seek emergency care immediately. HCA Midwest Health has 10 emergency rooms and the largest network of accredited chest pain centers in the Kansas City area. That means you are never far from expert, life-saving care.

Kansas City ER Locations

Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Coronary artery disease (another name for coronary heart disease) is when fat deposits clog the arteries that bring blood to the heart. It is one of the most common types of heart disease and can put you at risk for a heart attack. Women are generally 10 years older than men by the time they have symptoms of coronary heart disease. But that doesn't mean that you are only at risk after a certain age. Women under 45 can also develop the disease and many times can have a worse prognosis than men.

Take control of your heart health. We offer a FREE online heart disease risk assessment.

Heart Disease Risk Assessment

Coronary Calcium Heart Scan

A coronary calcium scan (heart scan), which measures calcified plaque in the coronary arteries, is available at all of our Kansas City hospitals for $50. To make an appointment contact the HCA Midwest Health hospital close to you.

Additional services are available.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Most of the risk factors are common for both men and women, but there are some unique to women.

  • Age - Over 55
  • Family history of premature coronary heart disease (This includes first degree relatives. Under 50 for males and under 60 for females)
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol and/or low HDL cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Post-menopausal status
  • Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological stresses
  • Inflammatory or rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • Eclampsia, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension or other pregnancy related complications

Heart Health: Women vs. Men