Symptoms and risk factors for heart diseases among women look different from men. That’s why the gender you were assigned at birth plays a role in detecting heart disease. Our experts care for women who are living with heart disease or are at risk for developing it by placing their goals and health history at the heart of each wellness plan.
Helping women get the heart care they deserve
Heart disease can present differently in women and assigned females at birth (AFABs) than in men and assigned males at birth (AMABs) because of differences in:
- Blood pressure
On average, women tend to develop disease about 10 years later than men, especially in the post-menopausal stage of life. Risk factors like obesity, diabetes and smoking can have a big impact on a person's health before that time.
While the differences in cholesterol and blood pressure play an important role in heart health, hormone replacement therapy adds a layer of complexity. Because no 2 hearts are the same, women can trust that their treatment plan will blend compassion and the latest in cardiovascular medicine.
We're dedicated to evaluating and treating cardiovascular conditions in women and AFABs, especially:
Certain conditions and lifestyle choices can heighten a woman's risk of heart disease, including:
- Family history of early onset coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
We encourage women to talk with their doctors regularly about their heart health and the preventive steps they can take to reduce potential risks.
Heart attacks in women
When many of us think about heart attacks, we jump to key symptoms like severe chest pain and left arm pain. While these are the most common heart attack symptoms, women may experience additional symptoms, or none at all. Common heart attack symptoms in women include:
- A sudden cold sweat
- Back, neck and jaw pain
- Chest pain, pressure and discomfort
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
These symptoms tend to be more subtle and can be confused with other non-cardiac conditions, or even stress or anxiety. As a result, women are more likely to wait longer before seeking help for a heart attack. Every second counts when it comes to heart health — that's why we encourage women to seek help as soon as they suspect a heart attack.
We turn to the following cardiovascular imaging tests and diagnostics to evaluate each woman's heart:
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound, but for the heart. We’re proud to be a leader in 3D echocardiography, which takes images from different angles to create a detailed view of the heart and its surrounding area.
MRI + CT imaging
A cardiac MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create images of the heart and blood vessels’ internal structure. These images allow us to look for damage or abnormalities.
A CT scan can help us evaluate blood vessels and coronary arteries for any signs of narrowing or blockages.
Nuclear medicine uses very small and safe amounts of radioactive material to identify any areas of the heart that are not getting enough blood or may not be functioning properly.
The most important thing women can do for themselves is to know and understand their bodies. Our care teams are here to support women throughout their wellness journeys and over-deliver on care by explaining each treatment plan in detail. We believe people can make the best healthcare choices when informed about their options.
The good news is that there are steps women can take to get ahead of their heart health. Here, we call that preventive cardiology plans. This may include helping women manage:
- Cardiovascular risk factors like smoking, lifestyle choices and genetics
- Lipid disorders
Awards + accreditations
Tufts Medical Center and MelroseWakefield Hospital are recognized by U.S. News & World Report for heart failure treatment. Tufts Medical Center is recognized by Healthgrades for stroke care.