Heart Disease in Women

This information is useful for adults
Two women are walking together.
Why Yale?
  • Our physicians are world leaders in women's heart health.
  • We have experience treating the rarest and most complex cases.
  • We offer leading-edge technology and treatments, plus access to clinical trials.

While heart disease is often considered a man’s disease, it doesn't discriminate. It's the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.

Yet, many women may not be aware that heart disease is as big of concern for them as it is for the men in their lives. An estimated one in four women will die from some form of heart disease, and they often have unique risk factors and symptoms.

At Yale Medicine, an interdisciplinary team of doctors and experts is devoted exclusively to women’s cardiovascular health. Their goal is to empower women to know their risks, take steps to protect their hearts, seek treatment when needed and live their healthiest lives.

Cardiovascular disease (often called heart disease) is an umbrella term that includes many different conditions. Here are some of the most common types in women:

  • Coronary artery disease: The most common type of heart disease in the United States, and a leading cause of heart attacks, it occurs when arteries become clogged with plaque and the heart can’t get enough blood.
  • Arrhythmia: These conditions, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, are characterized by an irregular heartbeat.
  • Diseases of the heart valves: Common valve diseases include mitral valve prolapse, mitral regurgitation and aortic stenosis.
  • Microvascular disease: This is caused by plaque in the small vessels that supply the heart muscle, which causes angina (chest pain). It's a more common problem for women than men.
  • Cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure: These are conditions caused by the backup up fluid into the lungs due to improper functioning of the heart.  
  • Congenital heart defects : This term describes structural heart problems present from birth. Examples include abnormally formed heart valves or holes in the septum, which is the dividing wall between the right and left sides of the heart.
  • Broken heart syndrome: This is the name used to describe a temporary condition that occurs when stressful or surprise situations cause sudden chest pain and tightness. It’s more common in women than men.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.