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Heart Disease & Women: The Silent Killer


In February we celebrated “Go Red Day for Women” which is the American Heart Association’s awareness campaign for the impact of heart disease on women. We can’t just think about this once a year, though, so here at Nourished Lifestyles, we are bringing it up again.


Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., but only 56% of women know and understand what this means. So what should we do?


First, we need to recognize the symptoms of heart disease. Common symptoms are:

  • Dull and heavy or sharp chest pain/discomfort

  • Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat

  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back

  • Some women even report having nausea or vomiting

The scary part is that some women do not have any symptoms. So what can we do then? We can mitigate risk factors. What the heck does that mean? Well first, we need to look at what increases your risk for heart disease:

  • Having another chronic disease such as diabetes

  • High blood pressure and/or high cholesterol

  • Unmanaged stress (i.e. coping with stress in unhealthful ways)

  • Being at an unhealthy weight

  • Eating low-nutrient dense foods a majority of the time

  • Limited movement throughout the day

  • Increase intake of alcohol

  • Smoking

  • Genetic factors

You can get a more tailored estimate of your risk by using the Mayo Clinic’s Heart Disease Risk Calculator (no you do not have to sign up for anything to get your results!).


So once you know your risk factors, now is the time to change your lifestyle and behaviors to lessen your risk. Dietitians can help with that! Of the risk factors listed above, those bolded in orange are all the factors that Dietitians can help you change!


No, you do not necessarily need the help of a dietitian to make these lifestyle changes, but research shows that working with a Dietitian increases the rate of behavior change (how fast you change your behaviors) and increases how likely you are to stick with these behaviors. Want to take a stab at it by yourself first? Check out these resources:

Would you rather have tailored, expert support in making these changes? Reach out to us today on our contact page! Your health insurance may cover visits with a dietitian, especially if you already have risk factors.


Author: Leslie Ouellette-Todd, MS, RD, LD, MPH