How Much Do You Know About Women’s Heart Health?


By: Jane Andrews

7 Min Quiz

Image: boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

For years, heart disease has primarily been thought of as a man's illness. But this is far from the case. In reality, it's the leading cause of death of women in the United States, responsible for approximately one in every three fatalities a year. That's nearly one woman each minute!

Luckily, about 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with lifestyle changes and education. In addition to exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet and managing your stress levels, being aware of common heart disease symptoms and risk factors is an essential part of prevention. What's more, it's important to understand that these factors are not always the same for men and women. While some health issues can increase the risk of heart disease in both males and females — high cholesterol and obesity, for example — others disproportionately affect women, including menopause, depression, inactivity and pregnancy complications. Being familiar with these nuances could save your life or the life of someone you love.

So, how much do you think you know when it comes to women's heart health? This quiz will test your knowledge of all things cardiovascular, from common heart attack warning signs and risk factors to interesting statistics and health misconceptions. Let's see how well you do!

Which of the following are common symptoms of heart attack in women?

Heart attack signs can differ between men and women. Women are less likely to have dramatic symptoms (chest pain, for example) and more likely to experience nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath and pain in the jaw area.


What percentage of women in the U.S. have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease?

These risk factors include smoking, being overweight or obese, and not engaging in physical activity. Being diabetic and having high blood pressure or high cholesterol can also put you at greater risk.


Is it true that birth control pills can increase a woman’s risk of having a heart attack?

Birth control pills can raise a woman's risk of having a heart attack because they increase the likelihood of blood clotting. This risk, however, is small, particularly for healthy women under 35 who do not smoke or have other heart disease risk factors.


Broken heart syndrome is a condition that occurs almost exclusively in women. What it is?

While symptoms of broken heart syndrome are similar to those of a heart attack and include shortness of breath and chest pains, the condition is temporary and not associated with artery blockage. Most women recover fully from broken heart syndrome.


Do you know what the term myocardial infarction refers to?

Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. In both men and women, heart attacks are most often the result of coronary artery disease (CAD), which is what happens when the arteries become clogged.


True or false? Heart disease kills more women each year than breast cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women have a greater risk of dying from heart disease — while one in 31 American women die from breast cancer each year, one in three succumb to heart disease on a yearly basis.


What's the most common type of heart disease among women in the U.S.?

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease among both men and women in the U.S. According to the CDC, it causes the deaths of about 610,000 people each year, nearly 300,000 of which are women.


Doctors often say it's important for women to "know their numbers" to prevent cardiovascular disease. Which of the following is not one of these must-know health numbers?

While it's important to be aware of the general number of calories you consume in a day to maintain a healthy weight, "knowing your numbers" refers to HDL cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI.


Do you know how much harder the heart has to work during pregnancy?

While most healthy women are able accommodate this extra demand to help nourish a fetus, a small percent may develop some type of vascular complication, such as pre-eclampsia or hypertension.


After menopause, what happens to a woman's risk of heart disease?

Heart disease can develop at any time during a woman's life, but the risk increases with age and can become more evident after menopause. This may be due to the decline of the hormone estrogen, which is thought to have a positive effect on artery walls and helps keep blood vessels flexible.


To maintain good heart health, how many minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity should a woman get per week?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends women get at least 150 minutes (about two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This can include activities like brisk walking, running, bicycling or spinning.


True or false? High stress levels can contribute to the risk of heart disease.

Because stress can cause your arteries to tighten, it increases your risk of heart disease, particularly coronary microvascular disease, which affects the walls and inner lining of small coronary artery blood vessels.


Do you know how many gallons of blood your heart pumps each day?

Your heart is responsible for delivering blood to all of the organs in your body. The 2,000 gallons it pumps each day adds up to approximately one million barrels over an average lifetime.


Which of the following is not a symptom of heart attack in women?

While rapid heart rate and anxiety can be signs of heart attack, major mood swings such as depressive episodes or periods of elation are not direct indicators of cardiovascular issues.


When doctors say it's important to know your "bad" cholesterol levels to prevent heart disease, which type of they referring to?

Known as low density lipoprotein, LDL cholesterol is what transports the blood in our bodies to our cells. When we have too much LDL cholesterol in our system, it leaves deposits in our arteries, which clogs them and can lead to heart disease.


Why is HDL considered "good" cholesterol?

High density lipoprotein (HDL) is referred to as the "good" cholesterol because it soaks up other forms of cholesterol in your bloodstream and transports it to your liver, where it's broken down and removed from your body.


Which of the following types of drugs are used to lower LDL cholesterol?

Statins are one of the most widely used forms of medication for lowering LDL cholesterol because they cause very few side effects. They work by preventing the formation of cholesterol in the liver, which reduces the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the bloodstream.


True or false? Taking megadoses of vitamin E is good for the heart.

Based on findings from a clinical trial performed in the 1990s, taking large doses of vitamin E was once touted as a way to reduce the risk of heart attack. The findings of this study have since been debunked, however, and vitamin E supplementation is no longer recommended as a method for lowering heart attack risk.


Do you know why high blood pressure is considered a "silent" risk for cardiovascular disease?

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, but it often goes undetected because many people who have hight blood pressure do not experience any symptoms. That's why it's essential to see your doctor regularly and have your blood pressure checked.


Which of the following is the most significant preventative measure a women can take to lower her risk of heart disease?

Smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for heart attack and stroke in both men and women. However, it's especially important for women. According to the American Heart Association, women who smoke have a 25% higher risk of developing heart disease than men who smoke.


Surprisingly, doing one of the following things may help keep your blood pressure down. Which is it?

According to a 2013 Italian research study conducted for the American Society of Hypertension, hearing your cellphone ring can cause blood pressure to jump as much as seven points.


What's the maximum amount of sodium a woman should consume in a day?

The American Heart Association recommends that both women and men consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, which is about the amount in just one teaspoon of salt. For people with certain risk factors, such as age or hypertension, the daily max is 1,500 mg a day.


This cardiovascular disease, which commonly affects the arteries in your legs, has an 11 percent higher death rate in women than men. Do you know which one it is?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) results when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs and limbs. In addition to arteries in the legs, it can also affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your stomach, kidneys, head and arms.


True or false? Dental hygiene and heart health have no connection.

Good oral hygiene practice such as flossing and brushing at least twice a day may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in both men and women. Studies suggest that periodontitis (gum disease) can increase blood pressure and interfere with medications to treat hypertension.


During which of the following holidays are heart attacks most likely to happen?

A 2018 study out of Sweden found that Christmas Eve is the worst day of the year for heart attacks in both men and women. The findings showed that the risk goes up by nearly 40%.


How big is the human heart?

On average, the human heart is about the size of a clenched fist, thought the female heart tends to be a little smaller — about two-thirds the size of a man's. In addition, studies have shown that the male heart slightly enlarges over time, while a woman's heart stays the same or becomes slightly smaller.


Drinking too much of one of these beverages can increase a woman's risk of heart attack. Do you know which one?

According to a 2019 study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, drinking two or more cans of any artificially sweetened beverage, including diet soda, can increase the risk of heart attacks and clot-based strokes in women over the age of 50.


In terms of how men and women react to heart attack symptoms, studies have shown which of the following to be true?

A 2019 Swiss study found that women wait 37 minutes longer than men to call 911 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. If you think you're having a heart attack, it's essential to get help right away — 85%t of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack.


What's the medical term for chest pain?

Angina occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to the heart. While it can go away quickly, it's often a symptom of heart disease in both men and women. Pain is also sometimes felt in the arms, neck or jaw.


Do you know what the DASH diet is?

Short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the DASH diet is an evidence-based eating plan designed to improve heart health and help lower blood pressure. Based on research funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, it promotes a balance of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.


Which of the following statements is true?

Women who have diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack or a stroke. If you have diabetes, it's essential to keep the illness controlled by seeing your doctor, monitoring your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and taking medication if necessary.


Which of the following conditions can increase a woman's risk of heart disease?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that results in enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. It's commonly associated with high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and low HDL levels, all of which increase heart attack risk.


Do you know the name of the American Heart Association's signature initiative for women?

Developed in 2004, Go Red for Women was created to raise awareness of heart disease in women and debunk the myth that it is primarily a man's illness. The initiative spearheads educational programs across the country.


Drinking alcohol in excess can increase heart disease risk. For women, what is considered moderate drinking?

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, moderate drinking for women is defined as no more than one alcoholic drink per day, while moderate drinking for men is defined as no more than two alcoholic drinks per day.


How many times does the average heart beat in a lifetime?

The heart is an amazing organ that works hard to keep you going. In both women and men, it beats an average of 100,000 times per day, which adds up to approximately 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.


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