Because women often present with different symptoms than men, it takes a specialized approach to caring for women with heart disease. Our Center offers a comprehensive array of cardiovascular healthcare services, designed specifically for women, in a single location. Accomplished cardiovascular specialists work together to provide the highest quality prevention and care, integrating the most recent medical and scientific advances. Housed within the Center, is the UCLA-Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Program. This program offers community education, cardiovascular risk management peer exchange and support and many other initiatives.
The UCLA Women's Cardiovascular Center is aligned with the Iris Cantor UCLA Women's Health Center to provide comprehensive care and education to women. We take a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, and all members of our team are dedicated to managing everything from education and counseling in coronary artery disease prevention to the treatment of complex cardiac and vascular disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States and most of the world. Every year since 1984, more women have died of cardiovascular disease than have men. Moreover, more women die of heart disease (162 per 1000) than lung cancer (40/1000), breast cancer (24/1000), or diabetes (20/1000). In the past several decades, heart disease mortality rates have been declining for both men and women, but the rate of decline is steeper for men than women and, in fact there is a disturbing increase in heart disease death rates for young women (women aged 35-54).
Another frightening fact is that, according to the American Heart Association, there is an alarming lack of awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, especially in communities of color. Women furthermore lack awareness of the symptoms of a heart attack, which can be very different in men and women. While men typically have the type of symptoms that we commonly associate with a heart attack - crushing chest pain, women often have symptoms that are more subtle. Women report more shortness of breath, cold sweats, neck and/or jaw pain, nausea, overwhelming fatigue, and abdominal pain, in addition to chest pain. These “atypical” symptoms often make women delay seeking medical care in the case of a heart attack, and unfortunately, also often cause a delay in diagnoses once women do seek medical care.
In addition to differing heart attack symptoms, the biology of cardiovascular disease is not the same in women as in men and thus requires different clinical care.
Women may also have different cardiovascular risk factors than men and, again, may require unique preventive care.
Up until the 1980s, most medical research was conducted only in males. Even today, with the knowledge of differences between men and women in cardiovascular biology, only 20% of medical research is performed using females. Some of the biological differences include: genetic differences, differences in reproductive hormones, smaller size and muscle mass.
UCLA has world-class expertise in all aspects of cardiovascular care including those with particular significance to women. Areas of expertise include microvascular dysfunction, preventive cardiology, heart failure, and heart disease in pregnancy.
We utilize novel imaging techniques and multiple treatment modalities such as diet, exercise, medications, interventions and psychosocial treatments and integrated therapies.
Dr. Anne Saltzman, UCLA Cardiac Psychologist, provides interventions centered on things that effect the heart, but cannot be easily measured. This includes stess, mood, sleep and love.