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

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

When It Comes to Disease, Women's Fears Are Misdirected

WebMD Health News

June 14, 2000 -- The majority of American women fear breast cancer more than heart disease despite the fact that heart disease is by far the single greatest threat to their health, a nationwide survey shows. Each year in the U.S., heart disease accounts for more than half a million deaths among women, while breast cancer accounts for about 43,000 deaths.

The lead researcher of the survey, Lori Mosca, MD, MPH, PhD, tells WebMD that she was "very surprised" at the low level of awareness of American women about the dangers of heart disease. She says the main message of the survey is that efforts need to be focused on changing women's behaviors.

"The main thing that women need to know is that [heart disease] is largely preventable," says Mosca, who is director of preventive cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. "Women need to be empowered to discuss their risks and risk factors with their doctors."

In 1997, Mosca and colleagues surveyed 1,000 women aged 25 and older about their knowledge of heart disease and stroke. The questions also tested their knowledge of symptoms of the two and how the diseases can be prevented. They report the findings of the survey in the June issue of the Archives of Family Medicine.

Overall, only 8% of women listed heart disease as their main health concern, and less than 33% knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Women age 35 and older were more likely than younger women to recognize the serious threat of heart disease. Compared with white women, Hispanic women were more likely to believe that cancer and AIDS were the leading causes of death among women.

Less than 20% of women in all ethnic groups considered themselves to be "well-informed" about heart disease, and less than 15% said they were "well-informed" about stroke.

Warning signs of stroke, such as slurred speech, headaches, sudden vision problems, and unexplained dizziness, also were not identified by the majority of women. Approximately 7% of women could not identify any of the warning signs of a heart attack, which include chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the arm, tightness in the chest, and nausea.

1 | 2 | 3

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