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Heart Disease Isn't Gender Specific

It isn’t just a guy thing.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men in the United States. 

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of women believe this is the greatest health problem facing them today. That’s concerning, because while the overall death rate from heart disease has decreased in men, it continues to increase in women.

Coronary artery disease, or the build-up of cholesterol-containing deposits in the arteries, is one of the most common forms of heart disease. Women and men are both at risk for the disease, but women typically do not show signs until 5 to 10 years after men do.

Just as the statistics between women and men vary greatly, so too do the symptoms of a heart attack. The movies depict the traditional warning signs (which you should be aware of), such as arm pain and chest pressure or pain. But many people, especially women, can exhibit a few lesser-known symptoms, which include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach, neck, shoulder or upper back pain
  • Sweating
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw pain

Awareness of these warning signs is important because early treatment can mean preventing severe long-term health problems or even death. 

Because nobody is exempt from heart disease, it is important speak with your physician about your risk factors for the disease (and a resulting heart attack). Male or female, young or old, if you exhibit any unusual symptoms like those listed above, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately.

Dr. Charles Ashby, Jr.,  is a Cardiovascular Disease specialist with over 40 years of diverse experience. He earned his medical degree from The Medical College of Virginia/ Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Va. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia affiliated hospitals in Roanoke and Salem, Va. and then a Cardiology fellowship with UVA affiliated hospitals in Charlottesville and Salem, Va. Dr. Ashby is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine with specialties in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease. He is a diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners and a fellow in the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Chest Physicians.​


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