How healthy is your heart?

Hey ladies, how do you think you are going to die?

When asked what the greatest disease risk to women is, the great majority men and women respond that breast cancer is the biggest killer of women.

There are a lot of ways to die. We all get one. In some cases, our gender predicts our ending. Young men tend to die in fast cars. It is widely assumed that men die of heart attacks more often than women. As a race, broadly speaking, we all tend to die of heart disease.

Healthy Heart Blog Insert

In fact, heart disease kills more women than the next 6 causes of death combined.

When women have a heart attack and survive they are far more likely to die in the next 12 months than men. This is partly due to women responding less to anti-clotting medication and to do with what happens to the lipids in women after menopause.

If you are wondering what tells us a woman is in danger of a heart attack:


Top heart attack symptoms in women

One month before a heart attack   During a heart attack

Unusual fatigue (71%)

Sleep disturbance (48%)

Shortness of breath (42%)

Indigestion (39%)

Anxiety (36%)

Heart racing (27%)

Arms weak/heavy (25%)


Shortness of breath (58%)

Weakness (55%)

Unusual fatigue (43%)

Cold sweat (39%)

Dizziness (39%)

Nausea (36%)

Arms weak/heavy (35%)

Source: Circulation 2003, Vol. 108, p. 2621.


Reassuring stuff, eh. That first column looks pretty much like the week before Christmas for EVERYBODY.

If you want to choose another way out of this mortal coil, if you want to opt out of the nearly 40% of women who’ll choose heart disease, the steps are remarkably simple and relatively easy.

  1. Don’t smoke & drink only occasionally
  2. Eat a diet high in fibre and plant-based foods
  3. Complete 200 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week and 2 x strength training sessions

It doesn’t matter when you start to make a change – any move towards these three lifestyle factors improves your heart health and it’s never too late. Never.

Over the last half-decade or so White Dog has been working with women of all ages and in particular women over 50 incrementally introducing weight training of various kinds and high intensity cardio (more on this in coming weeks but what’s important to know is the more intense your cardio the more ‘minutes’ that it’s worth).

We’ve got to a point now where we think we’re pretty darn good at it.