Published: Oct. 28, 2008
Updated: Mar. 29, 2010
Cardiologist Kristin Newby, MD, wants women to know that their number one health risk is not what they think.
Kristin Newby: Most women believe breast cancer is the biggest threat to their health. It’s not. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Despite all the efforts, women still underestimate the threat of heart disease. Also, the gender gap that exists in regard to heart disease can be very surprising.
Kristin Newby: Studies show that women are less likely to receive evidence-based therapies than men. We need to better understand what is underlying that phenomenon so we can be sure women are receiving treatments that we know work today. Women are less likely to receive intensive treatments for heart attack, even though they are more likely than men to die within a year of a first recognized heart attack. Women also develop heart disease later in life than men, so they may not worry about it as much as men do. Even the symptoms of heart attack in a woman are often not the classic ones. Instead, they may experience nausea, fatigue, or neck or shoulder pain.
Kristin Newby: The risk factors include
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, poor
diet, lack of exercise, family history, and diabetes. But
metabolic syndrome may be the most important marker for early
detection of coronary disease in women. Metabolic syndrome
often precedes type 2 diabetes. It is a collection of health
risks that includes obesity, high blood pressure, high blood
sugar, and other abnormal blood work results that your doctor
The Duke Center for Women's Heart Care is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s risk of heart disease and delivering multidisciplinary care.