National Heart Health Month: Signs, symptoms, and statistics about heart disease

American Heart Month is a federally designated event designed to remind Americans about the importance of heart health and the dangers of heart disease. The first American Heart Month took place in 1964 when more than half of deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, that number has gone down since then, but it is still a deadly disease.

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women? Many people think it affects more men than women, but more women die from heart disease than men. It kills almost 500,000 women every year, causing 1 in 3 deaths in women, compared to 1 in 31 American women who dies from breast cancer each year.

Signs and symptoms

Warning signs and symptoms for women are not the same as for men. The most common heart attack symptom in both men and women is chest pain/discomfort. But women are very likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Women often brush off their symptoms, thinking they mean the flu or stress, and they are less likely to call 911 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack!

Symptoms of a heart attack, from the American Heart Association:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Heart disease prevention

Learn more about the risk factors of heart disease and ways to prevent and manage it.

CSU University Communications Staff