Duke cardiologists who specialize in women’s heart health can provide you personalized cardiovascular assessments and care. Our team focuses on the unique ways heart disease can affect women. Our experts’ advice and guidance help you manage your heart health and reduce your heart disease risk.
Dedicated to Caring for Women's Hearts
Heart disease, the leading killer of women, can affect women differently than men.
- Coronary microvascular disease occurs in small blood vessels of the heart and is more common in women.
- Often, the first sign of cardiovascular disease in women is a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
- It's also common for women to experience lesser-known symptoms of heart disease. For example, you may feel more shortness of breath, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, left-arm or neck pain in addition to chest pain or pressure.
- Pregnancy, menopause, and stress can also affect women's hearts and require personalized care from knowledgeable experts.
We are aware of these differences and can choose the most appropriate tests to evaluate your condition. 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.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
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.
Duke cardiologists look for risk factors that may exclusively or more commonly affect women. These can include:
Psychosocial Stress Evaluation
We want to understand any social, mental, or emotional factors that may influence your heart health -- including issues such as balancing work, home, and family -- that may increase your stress and affect your heart health.
We monitor your height, weight, BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, and waist circumference. Too much abdominal fat indicates a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and other heart disease risk factors.
Blood tests measure your cholesterol profile, which includes triglycerides and other fats in your blood that can affect your heart. Glucose levels and hemoglobin A1c may be checked for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Thyroid function and other tests look for associated endocrine abnormalities. Special testing for inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein may also be part of a cardiovascular evaluation.
Your personalized assessment will help us determine any additional cardiac testing you may need, such as an echocardiogram, Holter heart monitor, cardiac CT scan, or noninvasive stress test. These tests allow us to take a closer look at the structure and/or rhythm of your heart.
Why Choose Duke
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.
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.