Allegheny Health Network
Find a
Request An Appointment Login to
News Classes &
Call 412.Doctors

Women's Heart Center at Saint Vincent Hospital

Specialized Heart Care for Women

Saint Vincent Hospital has a thorough understanding of the differences between a man and a women’s heart care.  By providing women with nutritional education, personal training and the appropriate screenings at your physician’s offices, we try to stop heart problems before they happen. By providing heart specialists trained at the nations leading facilities, procedures that are not available anywhere else in the region and quality of care ratings that far exceed national standards, Saint Vincent is your first choice for heart care.

Heart Disease Effects Over 8.6 Million Women Every Year

As a woman, you are nearly three times more likely to develop heart disease than a man. Heart Disease effects millions of women without even knowing it. If you think you may have heart disease or would like to discuss possible diagnostic or screening exams, speak with your primary care physician and take a step in the right direction to educate yourself and prevent yourself from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease, which causes heart attack, is the single leading cause of death for American women.

Women also tend not to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack as they can differ greatly from men. Women' symptoms can range from jaw pain to numbness in an arm. Symptoms typically include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • Chest pain or discomfort


The more risk factors a woman has, the greater her risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Some of these risk factors you can't control, such as increasing age, family health history, and race and gender. But you can modify, treat or control most risk factors to lower your risk.

What risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled by focusing on lifestyle habits and taking medicine, if needed?

  • Tobacco smoke - Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular heart disease among women. Women who smoke have an increased risk for ischemic stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Constant exposure to others' tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) at work or at home also increases the risk, even for nonsmokers. Women smokers who use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than nonsmokers who use them.
  • High blood cholesterol — High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and also increases the risk of stroke. Studies show that women's cholesterol is higher than men's from age 55 on. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) raise the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
  • High levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) lower the risk of heart disease. Research has shown that low levels of HDL cholesterol seem to be a stronger risk factor for women than for men.
  • High blood pressure — High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and the most important risk factor for stroke. Women have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure if they are obese, have a family history of high blood pressure, are pregnant, take certain types of birth control pills or have reached menopause. African-American women have higher average blood pressure levels compared to Caucasian women.
  • Physical inactivity — Various studies have shown that lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease and indirectly increases the risk of stroke. Overall, they found that heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people than in those who are more active. When you're inactive and eat too much, you can gain excess weight. In many people overweight can lead to high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends accumulating at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week.
  • Obesity and overweight — If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is located in your waist area — you're at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes mellitus — Adults with diabetes have have heart disease death rates that are two to four times those of adults without diabetes. People with diabetes often have high blood pressure and high cholesterol and are overweight, increasing their risk even more. 

    If you think you might be at risk of a heart condition talk to your primary physician and ask about screenings or diagnostic testing available in your area. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, call 814.453.7767.