Days after we published an insightful blog post from Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum titled “I’ve Done Everything Right…Why Am I Having Heart Problems?”, actress Susan Lucci astonished millions by talking openly for the first time about her recent heart blockage scare.

Susan Lucci! The 72-year-old is famously slim, fit, active and religiously follows the Mediterranean diet. Yet a few months ago, she experienced chest tightness and was rushed to the emergency room where doctors found a 90% blockage in her heart’s main artery.

Lucci was lucky. Her symptoms included the classic chest pain that quickly signal a possible heart attack. But studies show that most women having a heart attack don’t experience crushing chest pain, the “classic” heart attack symptom found in most men. And that’s one of the main reasons why heart attacks are missed in so many women.

As American Heart Month draws to a close, it’s important for men, women (and male doctors treating women!) to remember…

  • 40% of deaths in women are due to cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases affect more women than men
  • Heart attacks in women are generally more severe than in men
  • In the first year after a heart attack, women are more than 50% more likely to die than men are.

Yet despite all the evidence, women are still underdiagnosed and referred less often for preventive procedures. The bias to treat women like men still exists and even women contribute to it. Witness Susan Lucci’s candid admission, “As a woman, you think about breast cancer, not a heart attack.”

Her story is a powerful reminder that for women to defeat their #1 killer, that kind of thinking must come to an end. Or, as Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum again reminds us, it is time for “a new paradigm” for prevention and treatment of heart disease in women.

What could possibly be more beneficial than putting all your energy and heart into… heart health!