Published on June 14, 2016

Open your heart to better health

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S.

Heart stethoscopeBut that doesn’t mean it treats the sexes equally.

True, pressure in the chest is the most common sign of heart disease for both men and women. But women are more likely than men to feel fatigued. They’re also more likely to feel short of breath and have a heartburn-like pain.


“Surprise is the most common reaction I see when a woman’s EKG shows signs that she may have had a heart attack,” says Mary Ann Hill, CRNP at Mercy Cardiology.

EKG stands for electrocardiogram. It’s one of the many heart tests offered at Mercy Philadelphia.

“Women think breast cancer is their biggest threat,” Hill says. “Heart disease is often the furthest thing from their minds.”

But when heart disease causes 1 in every 3 female deaths a year, it’s time for women to give it a closer look.

How can you start? By making an appointment with your healthcare provider, Hill says.

“Find out what your personal risk is for heart disease,” she says. Then work with your doctor on a plan to lower the risks you can control. That may include:

  • Quitting smoking if you still smoke
  • Being more physically active
  • Choosing healthier foods
  • Taking steps to lower your blood pressure

“Women need to take care of themselves and their hearts first, before they can care for others,” Hill says.