What's the No. 1 cause of death for US women?

You may be surprised at the answer.


Do you know the No. 1 cause of death for women in the U.S.? Many people think it’s breast cancer or stroke.

Most are usually surprised to learn that the leading cause of death for all females — of all ages, races and origins — is heart disease. This also includes coronary artery disease and heart attacks.

Heart disease is often thought of a man’s issue. But it kills about 300,000 women each year. Symptoms in women can differ from those in men. This makes it harder to spot the signs.

Symptoms of heart disease in women

Women can feel pressure in the chest, just like men. But they can also have other symptoms like:

  • Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, stomach or back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness

Women may not have any symptoms if their heart disease is “silent.” This means that they may not be diagnosed until they have more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia): Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)
  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, stomach or neck veins

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away.


Learn how to keep your heart healthy


Schedule your Annual Wellness Visit.

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Tips to lower your risk of heart disease

Making healthy choices helps. Studies show that it works. Here are some changes to help lower your risk: 

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthier
  • Control your stress
  • Limit alcohol
  • Watch your blood pressure
  • Get plenty of sleep

Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?


Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get the service from a provider who accepts Medicare. You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays or coinsurance when you see a network provider and meet Medicare’s rules for the service.



  • American Heart Association
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Medicareinteractive.org

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.