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  1. Women's Health Topics

Heart Health for Women

Getting a Beat on What Women Know about Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Find out what other women like you know about heart health and get tips on how to keep your heart healthy!

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You may think heart disease only affects men. This is not true. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. FDA has tips to help you make good decisions about your heart health.

  1. Eat a heart healthy diet.
  2. Manage your health conditions.
  3. Get the facts about aspirin.
  4. Know the signs of a heart attack.

1. Eat a heart healthy diet.

The nutrition facts on the food label can help you make healthy food choices.

  • Choose foods that are ‘low salt’ or ‘low sodium.’
  • Limit foods that have ‘trans fat.’ Too much trans fat can cause heart attacks.
  • Cut back on sugar. Sugar is also labeled as ‘glucose’, ‘fructose’, ‘sucrose’, and ‘corn syrup.’
  • Get tips on how to use the nutrition facts label.

2. Manage your health conditions.

Common health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

  • Download a booklet to help you talk to your doctor about medicines for diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Take your medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicines until your healthcare provider says that it is OK.
    • Consider using less costly generics as safe and effective alternatives to your more costly brand-name medicines. Discuss with your healthcare provider if this is an option for you and get your questions answered.
  • If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar level.
  • Ask your healthcare provider how you should manage your health conditions during pregnancy.
  • Some women need a device to help their heart work. Talk to your healthcare provider about what device is best for your heart problem.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about getting your blood pressure and cholesterol tested.

3. Get the facts about aspirin.

Daily use of aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke is not right for everyone.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should use aspirin.
  • If aspirin is right for you, find out:
    • how much you should take.
    • how often you should take it.
    • how long you should take aspirin. Some products combine aspirin with other ingredients and are not meant for long-term use.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements you take. Your risk of bleeding may be higher if you use aspirin while also taking certain medicines, vitamins, or herbs.
  • Get the facts on using aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke.

4. Know the signs of a heart attack.

The signs of a heart attack can be different for women than they are for men.

  • Heavy ache in your chest or back between your shoulder blades
  • Sharp pain in your upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unusual or unexplained tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling sick to your stomach

While the most common symptom for both women and men is chest discomfort, you can have a heart attack without experiencing chest pain or pressure. Women are more likely to have other symptoms such as back pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, and nausea or vomiting.

Call 9-1-1 if you think you are having a heart attack.

Make a Difference

Clinical trials help researchers learn about heart health and how treatments work. People of all ages, racial and ethnic groups, healthy women, and those with a variety of health conditions should be included.

Visit the Women in Clinical Trials webpage to learn more about how you can participate.


Heart Health Social Media Toolkit

FDA Office of Women's Health offers resources to help women and healthcare providers get informed about heart health. Use the Heart Health Social Media Toolkit to encourage women in your network to protect their hearts. The toolkit includes resources for 'everyday' women and health professionals, including sample social media messages and blog posts.

Download and Share: Social Media Toolkit (PDF 375KB)

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