Women's Health Matters

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Heart Health


Cardiovascular disease, once considered a ‘man's disease,’ is the number one killer of women in Canada and worldwide.

Consider the facts:

  • Women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Women are ten times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from any other disease.
  • Women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer. Cardiovascular disease kills more women 65 years of age and older than all cancers combined.
  • One in eight women between the ages of 45 and 64 lives with cardiovascular disease.
  • One in four women over 65 lives with some form of cardiovascular disease.

In the past, it was believed that women's cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms differed from those of men. However, it may be that women experience and/or describe pain differently from men.

Women need to be educated about the symptoms of heart disease because they tend not to report symptoms to their doctors. And doctors need to recognize and diagnose heart disease in their women patients and provide them with the healthcare they need.

Cardiovascular disease can be prevented. We can learn about the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and make choices that promote our heart health. For example, we can quit smoking, eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise regularly.



Exercise as medicine

Equating exercise with medicine isn't just a reminder that physical activity is good for you. Research has shown that exercise is a powerful therapy that can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other benefits.

Hypertension for her: high blood pressure affects women differently than men

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is common in both men and women, especially as we age. However, it tends to follow different patterns over the course of men’s and women’s lifetimes.

What's the difference between a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke?

Heart attack, heart failure and stroke are different conditions that affect people in different ways. Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women’s College Hospital, explains the difference.

Fertility treatment not linked to long-term cardiovascular risks, WCH study finds

New WCH research shows that fertility treatment is not associated with excess cardiovascular risk later in life. In fact, mothers who conceived using fertility treatment had significantly lower cardiovascular risks than other mothers.

How can I reduce my sodium intake?

Nicole Bourgeois, registered dietitian with the Family Practice Care Centre at Women’s College Hospital, discusses how much sodium we need, why too much can be a problem, and ways to reduce our sodium intake.

Being more active and getting fitter: starting from scratch

For someone who has been inactive for a while – maybe even for years – adopting a more active lifestyle can seem like a challenging ambition.


> Read more articles about women's cardiovascular health


How your heart works

Ischemic heart disease

Risk factors for ischemic heart disease

Sex differences and heart disease

What is a stroke?

Tests to help identify risk factors

Recovering from a heart attack or surgery


Prevention strategies

Prevention: live a healthy lifestyle



Study links high-rise living to lower survival rates for cardiac arrest

Moderate drinking may be linked to subtle heart damage in older women

Heart disease risk dramatically lower in young women with 6 healthy habits, study finds

Heart disease outcomes similar for rural and urban patients, WCH study finds

> More News

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Featured Video

Personal Stories

Do you have a personal story to tell about living with heart disease? Consider submitting it to Personal Stories to share your journey with others.

Moving my heart muscles

Gender does matter in heart disease

Three women, one heart attack and a sound asleep husband

> More stories

Discussion Groups

Share knowledge and talk about your health-related experiences with other women.

General Health Discussion Forum

Women's College Hospital Programs

Learn more about the following programs:

Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital