But only 1 in 4 women believe heart disease is a significant health threat.
Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., only 1 in 4 women consider heart disease a significant health threat. In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, only 13% of women named heart disease as their top health risk—even though half of the women surveyed were aware heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.
What is the reason for this discrepancy? The data suggest that many women are more worried about getting breast cancer than heart disease—even though heart disease kills six times as many women as breast cancer every year. Since heart disease tends to manifest at older ages, younger women are less likely to consider heart disease a threat. A woman’s first heart attack tends to occur, on average, at age 70. Diseases like breast cancer, on the other hand, are more likely to be present in younger women. The older age at which heart disease tends to present itself might make the risk of heart disease seem less real to younger women.
What is perhaps most disturbing, though, is the fact that many women say their physicians never even talk to them about the risk of heart disease. Many women also report that, in some cases, healthcare professionals fail to recognize the symptoms of heart disease in women and misdiagnose them as signs of stress, anxiety, or even hypochondria.