Hollywood movies have in many ways shaped our image of a typical heart
attack victim—the overweight middle-aged man who smokes, falling to the ground while gripping his chest. The real-life picture includes a much wider spectrum of the population, including women who don’t always have those telltale signs. In fact, heart disease and stroke are the cause of 1 in 3 deaths among women each year—more than all cancers combined. While a startling statistic, only 56 percent of women actually identify cardiovascular disease as the greatest health problem facing them today.
While women are more apt to seek health care than males for a variety of reasons, women tend to chalk up heart disease symptoms to less life-threatening conditions such as acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. This laissez-faire mindset often means women wait longer than men to go to an emergency room when having a heart attack.