3 Heart Attack Myths: Age, Gender & Recovery

Feb 9, 2022


Heart disease is the leading killer of women, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Arm yourself with the facts about how and why the condition affects women differently — and how you can minimize your risk by making positive changes today.

Heart Attacks In Men

Myth: Heart disease is a man’s disease.

Fact: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women.

One in three women die from the disease, which includes coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, the American Heart Association notes.

Women become more at risk for heart disease and heart attacks during menopause. Why? Estrogen has heart health benefits; it helps reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and relaxes blood vessels for better blood flow. But in menopause, women’s bodies produce less of this protective hormone.

Women also live about five years longer than men, and the likelihood of women experiencing heart conditions grows as they age.

Heart Disease And Age

Myth: I’m not old enough to worry about heart conditions.

Fact: Heart attacks are striking more young women than ever, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart disease can affect all women, no matter their age, weight or activity level.

Factors that increase heart disease risk include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, tobacco use, high cholesterol, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and a history of preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy caused by high blood pressure.

Family history is also paramount. Does your sister or mother have high cholesterol or high blood pressure? Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can prioritize your heart health with simple changes, such as walking for 30 minutes a day.

Heart Disease Recovery

Myth: I’ll never recover from a heart attack.

Fact: Your recovery largely depends on quick treatment and your commitment to necessary lifestyle adjustments.

The sooner you get treatment, the better. Most heart damage happens within the first two hours of an attack — that’s why it’s so important to get to a hospital quickly. Your physician will treat your blockage with clot-dissolving drugs, surgery or a balloon angioplasty, a procedure that involves inserting a small balloon into the artery to expand it and allow blood flow to resume.

Once you’re home, your medical team will outline helpful lifestyle changes, such as ways to improve your diet, quit smoking and manage stress.