Sarah M. Speck, MD, FACC -  - Cardiologist

Speck Health

Sarah M. Speck, MD, FACC

Cardiologist & Internist located in First Hill, Seattle, WA

Heart Disease In Women

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, and it affects women differently than men. Dr. Speck provides screening and treatment for women from across Seattle, WA at her Speck Health practice in the First Hill neighborhood of the city.

Heart Disease in Women Q&A

by Sarah M. Speck, MD, FACC

How Does Heart Disease Present Differently for Women?

The biggest difference is the way that heart attacks are experienced. Instead of the crushing chest pain- most often associated with heart attacks, women may feel some pressure or discomfort in the chest, that may not be the dominant symptom. Women are more likely than men to have a heart attack without chest pain at all. Some of the symptoms more commonly experienced by women include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Right arm pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Unusual fatigue

These symptoms are not only more subtle, but also typically associated with other issues or conditions and it may be due to the fact that women are more likely to have several small blockages in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart instead of one large blockage in a major artery.  

Are Women Subject to the Same Risk Factors as Men?

Many of the risk factors are the same for patients of both genders, but some play a bigger role in the development of cardiovascular disease in women. For example, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease more significantly in women. Mental stress and depression have a greater effect on women’s hearts than men’s. Issues like smoking, metabolic syndrome, and physical activity levels have been shown to affect women more than men. Also, issues associated with pregnancy and menopause have an effect on women’s cardiovascular health.

What Can Women Do to Reduce Their Risk of Heart Disease?

Women of all ages, with or without a family history, should take heart disease seriously. All women should practice the following behaviors:

  • Have cardiovascular screenings done at regular intervals from the age of 20
  • Quit or do not start smoking
  • Exercise for a cumulative minimum of 150 minutes per week, sessions can be as short as ten minutes and up to 60 minutes in length
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet, low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt
  • Take prescribed medicines as directed including blood pressure medication, blood thinners and aspirin
  • Manage other health conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease

Accepted Insurances

Below is a short-list of just some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed below.

  Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield
AARP
Aetna
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Cigna
First Choice Health
Health Net
LifeWise
Medicare
Multiplan PHCS
Multiplan, Inc.
Providence Health Plans
Tricare
UnitedHealthcare
Testimonials

Words from our patients

  • Vitals

    "I am so glad I found Dr. Speck. She is an excellent Dr. I trust her knowledge so much...She got me on the correct meds and my life/health has been wonderful since then."

    Renee
  • Yelp

    "Very knowledgeable and patient oriented group...I highly recommend this clinic for both athletes and those wanting top cardiac care and advice."

    Stan G.
  • Yelp

    "Dr. Speck has a preventative approach to good heart health...In this scary area of heart health, Dr. Speck puts me at ease knowing I am in excellence hands."

    Peggy Z.