Young women rarely worry about having a heart attack. They assume they're not at risk, but nothing could be further from the truth. Find out what increases risk.
May 30, 2019Your Health
Medical Director of Atria New York City
Clinical Associate Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
A National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association
Former Medical Director of NYU Women's Heart Program
Senior Advisor, Women's Health Strategy, NYU Langone Health
Founder and Former Medical Director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is medical director of Atria New York City and former NYU Women's Heart Program senior advisor women's health strategy NYU Langone Health; the founder and former medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center; and clinical associate professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine. She is also the co-medical director of the 92nd Street Y's Cardio Rehab Program, a cardiologist, author, radio show host on Doctor Radio SIRIUS XM 81 of "Beyond the Heart," and a nationally recognized pioneer in women's heart health. Dr. Goldberg is a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association and started the "Go Red for Women" campaign.
Dr. Goldberg is the author of "Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health." She has also authored the award-winning and highly acclaimed book, "Women Are Not Small Men," which was updated and titled "The Women's Healthy Heart Program — Lifesaving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease," published by Ballantine Books.
A graduate of Barnard College and SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, Dr. Goldberg completed her medical residency at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and a cardiology fellowship at SUNY Downstate.
Dr. Goldberg's research and medical publications focus on cardiovascular disease in women, exercise imaging and exercise. She is often asked by the media for her expert interpretation of current studies and medical news. Dr. Goldberg has made numerous appearances on programs such as The Today Show, The View, Good Morning America, The Early Show and CBS Evening News. In addition, she has been featured and interviewed by reporters from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Fitness Magazine, More, Glamour, Good Housekeeping and many others discussing woman's health and heart disease. She serves on the Woman's Day Editorial Advisory Board.
Through the years Dr. Goldberg was celebrated, again and again, on New York Magazine's "Best Doctors" list, In 1999, she was the only woman in its top 10 "Hall of Fame of Physicians." The recipient of numerous awards for her advocacy for women's heart health, she received the American Heart Association's "Dr. with Heart" award, Woman's Day magazine's "Red Dress" award, Jewish Women International's "Women to Watch" award and The Women at Heart 2006 Honoree Award from the Links Greater New York Chapter.Full Bio
Learn about our editorial policies
Young women rarely worry about having a heart attack. They assume they're not at risk, but nothing could be further from the truth. Heart disease is not just something your mother or grandmother needs to be concerned about.
You may be at increased risk of heart disease if you have or have had certain conditions, including:
An autoimmune disease, such as lupus or psoriatic arthritis
Hypertension of pregnancy
Preeclampsia during pregnancy
Autoimmune diseases create inflammation, which in turn triggers a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Fibromuscular dysplasia, which affects blood vessels, is found with far greater frequency in women. It increases the chances of a rare type of heart attack called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Instead of a heart attack caused by a clot—a myocardial infarction—a SCAD is caused by an acute tear in a coronary artery. Women with fibromuscular dysplasia should be monitored regularly by their health care professional and avoid high-intensity interval exercise and extreme emotional stress.
Warning signs of a SCAD are similar to other heart attack symptoms in women, including tightness or pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, fainting and extreme fatigue. It's important to note that a SCAD can happen to women who do not live with fibromuscular dysplasia and having the disorder doesn't mean you will have a SCAD heart attack.
Problems during pregnancy also increase risk for younger women, particularly gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia. African-American women and older mothers are particularly vulnerable. If you have high blood pressure during your pregnancy, it's important to be monitored frequently while pregnant and get regular checkups afterward. High blood pressure often returns after the baby is born.
With regular care and good maintenance, risk to your heart can be reduced. A lifestyle that includes a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, proper medication and reducing sodium and alcohol can help you and your heart have a long and healthy life.