It's known as the "silent killer" and the symptoms between men and women differ quite a bit which makes recognizing the early signs of this disease some times more difficult.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America; it takes the life of more women than any of the other major diseases combined.
"When we speak about heart disease it consists mainly of high cholesterol problems that cause blockages in the arteries of the vessels that supply the heart," says Heart Institute Cardiologist, Dr. Kailm Habet.
It wasn't until the 1990's that cardiologist really starting seeing a link between women and heart disease.
“Most studies were done in males in the 50's, 60's 70's and 80's, especially heart disease was not considered something for females and most of the studies were done in males,” says Dr. Habet.
But the truth is, roughly 42-million women in America suffer from serious heart related issues and in fact they are more severe in women than in men Habet says. He adds that while the main symptom in heart disease in both men and women is chest pain, all the symptoms are not the same in both males and females.
Here are a few of the other symptoms that women sometimes write off...jaw pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue, upset stomach and shortness of breath.
Dr. Habet's long time patient is in for a check up to try to get to the bottom of why her breathing is more labored these days.
"What would you do if it was your mother?” ask the patient.
"I would do the heart cath because I think your symptoms have gotten worse since I've known you. You're telling me just from walking from the car to in here, you're a huffing and puffing," he replies.
So how big of a problem is heart disease here in the valley?
Here are the five main risk factors: genetics, whether a person smokes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or diabetes.
"Unfortunately, heart disease hasn't been studied much in Hispanic patients. We do know that 74% of Hispanic females in our country are overweight and we do know diabetes is more prevalent in the Mexican-American population. We are now doing studies to enroll the patients in these trials," says Dr. Habet.
While research may not have exact numbers on heart disease and Hispanics, specifically women, we definitely know that our population here in the valley does suffer from obesity and diabetes, a few of the risk factors that predispose one to heart disease.
"I believe it's important to listen to your body as a person and don't blow off symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion and just you know, think it's something mild,” says Dr. Habet.
To reduce your risk of heart disease a few simple reminders... don't smoke, stay active, eat healthy and try to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
"You have to try to prevent, because prevention is better than intervention," says Dr. Habet.
For more information on heart disease in women, click on the link below.