• Myths About Women and Heart Disease


    The wrong information can be just as dangerous as no information. According to a consensus statement from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), mixed messages from the media, as well as the tendency of the public and healthcare providers to underestimate the problem, are enormous barriers to heart health in women.

    “One of our goals is to break down the barriers created by mixed messages and myths, so that women are less likely to underestimate the extent of the problem when they experience symptoms,” says Roxana Mehran, MD, FSCAI, Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Trials at the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute.

    Myth #1: Women don’t get heart disease.

    Truth: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.

    Myth #2: Women are more at risk for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer than they are from heart and vascular disease.

    Truth: Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is the single most common cause of death among women. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases as from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer.

    Myth #3: Women are not at risk for heart attack until after menopause.

    Truth: Heart disease is the third most common cause of death among women ages 25 to 44 years old.

    Myth #4: Women are protected from heart attacks by estrogen.

    Truth: The loss of natural estrogen may contribute to the risk of heart attack as women age but it has not been shown to protect women, according to the American Heart Association. 

    Myth #5: Current research on heart disease applies equally to men and women.

    Truth: According to SCAI, women only account for 20 to 25 percent of most heart disease clinical trials.

    Myth #6: Men and women receive the same treatment for heart disease.

    Truth: Women are less likely to have an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) done within 10 minutes of presenting with heart attack symptoms and less likely to be cared for by a cardiologist during their inpatient admission.

    Learn More

    Fight heart disease with knowledge. You can learn more about heart disease in women in our Women's Cardiovascular Health Center.