NEWS | February 11, 2020

The truth about women and heart disease

Annual forum educates and empowers heart health champions


Women's Heart Care Forum speakers offer insights about heart disease prevention. This video is best viewed in Chrome or Firefox.

(SACRAMENTO) ― Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. It kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, yet most women think breast cancer is their biggest health threat. 

Amparo Villablanca is a UC Davis Health cardiologist whose clinic and research are dedicated to reducing the impact of heart disease on women. She also empowers women to take charge of their heart health at her Women's Heart Care Forum, held each year on National Wear Red Day ― the first Friday in February, which is American Heart Month.

This year's forum was on Feb. 7.


Cardiologist Amparo Villablanca hosted the forum.

"There really is a lot to celebrate," Villablanca said to the more than 250 attendees. "Heart disease deaths are declining. But there is still much more work to be done."

Villablanca is concerned that more women than men die each year of heart disease. The number of heart disease deaths among younger women also is growing. And women tend to hesitate or not call 911 at all when experiencing heart attack symptoms. She asked forum participants to do these three things to reduce their risks: 

1. Know your numbers: keep blood pressure under 120/80, cholesterol under 200, body mass index under 25, waist size under 35 inches and blood sugar level under 100.

2. Talk with your doctor about managing heart disease risks, but call 911 immediately if experiencing signs of a heart attack: chest discomfort or pain, shortness of breath, sweatiness, nausea, dizziness or fatigue, especially with physical or emotional stress.

3. Let go of stress: Find ways to relax every day such as yoga, meditation, walking or whatever calms you. 

"Seeing so many women united in wearing red and committed to learning and sharing the truth about heart disease gives me hope that one day all women will put their heart health first," Villablanca said.


Villablanca's program is the nation's first dedicated to female-focused heart disease care, research and education. Learn more about heart-healthy living on the program website at womenshearthealth.ucdavis.edu.