Women’s heart disease

Risk assessment, prevention and treatment

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Cardiologists in Duke's women’s cardiovascular health clinic provide personalized heart care to women. We understand the unique ways heart disease affects women. Our expert advice and guidance helps you manage your heart health, and reduce your heart disease risk.

Dedicated research enhances your care

Our women's heart disease experts have dedicated their patient care and research interests to better understanding how heart disease affects women. For example, microvascular obstruction - a disease that occurs in the small arteries of the heart -- and spontaneous coronary artery dissection are more common in women than men. Pregnancy, menopause, and stress can impact women's hearts, and require personalized care from knowledgeable experts. 

Heart disease is the leading killer among women. Often, the first sign in women is a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Whether you have been diagnosed with heart disease, or are concerned about your risk and want to take steps now, we can help you manage your heart health, and prevent future events. 

Choose Duke for your care because we offer:

  • Dedicated women’s heart specialists. We provide gender-specific evaluations and treatments in accordance with the American Heart Association guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women.
  • Gender-specific lifestyle recommendations. We work closely with you to help you adopt heart healthy habits based on the specific recommendations available for women regarding exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and weight loss goals.
  • Comprehensive risk factor evaluations. In addition to traditional heart disease risk factors, we look for risk factors that may exclusively or more commonly affect women. These can include pregnancy-related complications, hormone replacement therapy, rheumatologic and immunologic disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Emotional, physical and psychosocial factors may also influence the development of heart disease in women.
  • Care for women with coronary artery disease. It's common for women to experience heart disease with lesser known symptoms. For example, you may feel more abdominal pain, nausea, left arm or neck pain in addition to chest pain or pressure. We are aware of these differences and can choose the most appropriate test to evaluate your condition.  
  • Experts in heart disease during pregnancy and beyond. We provide expert heart care to pregnant women with pre-existing heart conditions, as well as women who develop heart failure during pregnancy. Women who experience complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, or pre-eclampsia, are more likely to develop heart disease later in life. After menopause, women are more prone to stress-induced heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy). We help you prevent and treat heart disease at every stage of your life.
  • Personalized treatment options. We tailor your treatments to your needs. For example, women may need lower doses of medications than men to have the same benefit and avoid harmful side effects. Women may also have a more profound response to cardiac resynchronization therapy for advanced heart failure when compared to men.
  • Ongoing sex-specific research. We conduct sex-specific research to promote ongoing advances in women’s heart care. We are also researching genetic markers to better understand why differences exist between men and women, and to identify which women may be at greatest risk for developing heart disease. Our efforts may help us personalize your care.


Risk evaluation

Our comprehensive risk evaluation includes a thorough personal, family and OB-GYN history, as well as an assessment of your dietary intake, exercise habits, and social history. This in-depth evaluation identifies the factors that increase your risk for heart disease, and is used to develop your personalized recommendations and treatment plan.

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