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How women's heart health differs from men's

February 22, 2023 |4 minute watch time

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. When it comes to heart attacks, women are more likely to die than men. Meanwhile, only 36% of women ask their doctor for a heart health screening – and only one-third of those women get screened. Disparities also exist for women of different races and ethnicities, including a 30% higher death rate for Black women.

Why it matters

Many women don’t know how prevalent heart disease is. They also may not understand the unique risk factors related to pregnancy and menopause and how to act on that information. And when women have a heart attack, they often experience fatigue and nausea rather than classic chest pain, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment.

“As a health care system, we have this one-size-fits-all approach, as if everybody needs the same thing, which really isn’t true,” says Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH, Vice President and Chief Health Equity Officer, CVS Health®.

Our key takeaway

Women can improve their heart health awareness by knowing their family history, getting regular screenings (available at MinuteClinic® locations) and advocating for themselves. The health care system can improve heart health for women by including more females in clinical trials and addressing the unique health needs of women in clinician training.

“These are not scary things,” says Joanne Armstrong, MD, MPH, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Women’s Health and Genomics for CVS Health. “You can actually take action and change the course of your health.”