Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

What You (and Your Doctor) Don't Know Can Kill You

By Candace Hoffman
WebMD Health News

June 8, 2000 -- Nancy Loving, 53, never thought she'd be a national spokesperson for anything, let alone become a "poster child for heart disease." But after her heart attack at age 48, she found herself among a virtually unrecognized group of more than 440,000 American women who suffer heart attacks each year. And she decided it was time to speak out.

More women get heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, yet most women consider it only a remote health risk. A recent national poll showed that, although they are more likely to die from heart disease than any other disease, 61% of women consider cancer their greatest health threat and only 7% see heart disease as a major killer. Further, many doctors have not been trained to look for heart disease in women, and may fail to warn them of the dangers.

Loving, a public relations professional based in Washington, experienced this firsthand. Despite the fact that she smoked, was overweight, and had a family history of heart disease, she never thought she was a candidate for the disease. Nor did her doctors ever talk to her about it.

But then she awoke one night with upper back pain, a cold, clammy feeling, and lightheadedness. Thinking she had the flu, she had her daughter drive her to the hospital. On the way, she realized "something was very wrong."

She was lucky: an alert doctor recognized her symptoms and she was treated before any heart muscle damage occurred. But the experience left her angry and scared. When she asked her doctor if there were any support groups for women like her, she was told there were none. So she formed Womenheart, an organization devoted to educating women about their risks and providing a support network.

Her two co-founders, Jackie Markham and Judy Mingram, each have their own treatment horror stories.

When Markham experienced symptoms, was told she had the flu and to go home and rest, according to Loving. The following day, she had a major attack -- which was first diagnosed as shingles, an inflammation of nerves caused by the chicken pox virus. Fortunately, Loving says, a young woman doctor looked at Markham's chart and realized she was having a heart attack. But by that time, 10% of her heart muscle had died.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure