What do you think is the biggest health risk for women: breast cancer or heart disease?\nYou might be surprised to learn that heart disease affects more women than all types of cancer combined, causing one in three deaths each year.\nFind more information. Contact the UPMC Women\u2019s Heart Program.\nIn many cases, heart disease is preventable, and the first step in prevention is understanding what puts you at risk. Learn more about women’s risk factors for heart disease, the symptoms of heart disease in women, and what you can do to keep your risks low.\nHeart Disease Risk Factors in Women\nAccording to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have at least one or more risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Both men and women can have a higher risk of heart disease because of:\n\nAge\nFamily history\nMedical conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes\nBeing overweight or obese\nSmoking\nBeing physically inactive\n\nRELATED:\u00a0What Women Need to Know About Menopause and Heart Health\nSome other factors that can raise a woman’s risk of heart disease relate to her menstrual cycle and other health conditions, including:\n\nStarting your period at a young age (10 or younger)\nGoing through menopause at a young age (44 or younger)\nBeing post-menopausal\nPregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia\nMedical conditions like lupus, chronic kidney disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)\n\nAnd, the more risk factors you have, the higher your risk may be. Make sure you talk with your doctor about all of your potential risks.\nHeart Disease Symptoms in Women\nHeart disease symptoms can be different for each person, and may be mild, moderate, or severe. They may come and go with certain activities, like when you exercise or do household chores, or may show up during times of emotional stress, like when you’re angry or upset.\nSymptoms of heart disease can include:\n\nChest pain or pressure\nShortness of breath\nFatigue, or feeling very tired\nFluttering in the chest (also called heart palpitations)\nWeight gain accompanied by swelling in the legs\nSwelling in your feet or ankles\nCoughing, especially a dry cough\n\nThe experts at the Magee-Womens Heart Program, part of the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, recommend that you talk with your doctor about any symptoms you have or any changes you notice, especially with activity or emotion. While you’d likely call your doctor if you had chest pains, you might not think to tell him or her that your daily walk to the mailbox leaves you feeling winded, or that you get short of breath when you’re angry. Write down how you feel and what’s happening when you feel it, then talk with your doctor.\nHeart Attack Symptoms in Women\nIt’s very important to know that heart attack symptoms can be different for women than they are for men. Women can have classic symptoms like chest pain, arm pain, and shortness of breath, but may also experience milder symptoms like:\n\nPressure or pain in the chest that comes and goes\nSweating\nNausea\nDizziness or light-headedness\nPain in the jaw, arm, or back\nFatigue\n\nIf you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away. Early treatment can save your life.\n6 Ways Women Can Stay Heart Healthy\nYou might be surprised to learn how simple changes and good habits can help your heart.\n\nChoose a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, fish, and low-fat dairy products.\nGet – and stay – active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. If you don’t have a full 30 minutes, break up your activity into smaller 10-minute sessions.\nQuit smoking or using tobacco products. It’s never too late, no matter how long you’ve been smoking or using tobacco.\nFind healthy ways to cope with stress. Physical activity, hobbies, and mediation are great ways to keep your stress levels in check.\nGet regular check-ups with your doctor, and be sure to talk with him or her about any symptoms you feel.\nIf you’re diagnosed with heart disease, stay on your treatment plan. Following your doctor’s recommendations for healthy lifestyle changes and medications can help lower your risk for serious complications like heart attack and stroke.\n\nThe Magee-Womens Heart Program provides complete diagnostics, assessments, and treatment for women at risk for or living with heart disease. To learn more, visit the Magee-Womens Heart Program or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).