chapter  62
Heart Disease in Women
Pages 10

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in women, outnumbering deaths from all other causes combined. Each year over 500,000 women experience a myocardial infarction and more than 250,000 die from coronary artery disease. Despite the national campaigns to increase the awareness of heart disease in women, including the “Go Red” campaign and the “Red Dress”campaign,only 55% of women in a recent survey are aware that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women and less than 15% of women surveyed perceive it as a significant risk to themselves.Furthermore,the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in women, including coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and hypertension, exceeds men in the population over 55 years (Fig. 1). Because of the higher proportion of women in the aging population, each year more women die of cardiovascular disease than men. Importantly, increasing prevalence of risk factors for heart disease such as obesity and diabetes, which affect women to a greater extent than men, will likely make heart disease in women more prevalent at an even younger age in the future.The mortality rate from cardiovascular disease in men has declined steadily during the last 20 years. In women, unfortunately, this rate has remained relatively unchanged (Fig.2).