UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am
BRYAN -- Breast cancer awareness, fundraisers and ribbons are everywhere but it's heart disease that is the number one killer of women.
Every year more women will die from the disease than from any other type of cancer combined and a new study reveals why.
Many of us think that chest pains are the first sign of a heart attack but doctors say that's not the case every time.
"A lot of times they won't have the chest pain," said Dr. Clint Cheng with St. Joseph Family Medicine. "All they'll feel is shortness of breath, severe fatigue, light-headedness and dizziness. They feel like they are about to pass out."
And a new study of more than one million heart patients reveals that women under the age of 55 are less likely to seek medical attention after experiencing these symptoms
Dr. Cheng contributes a lot of that to the fact that women don't realize how serious their symptoms may be.
"A lot of times they blame it on other things like, 'It's just my reflux acting up again or I'm sure I'm just coming down with a cold or I'm just undergoing a lot of stress right now.'"
But often times women don't even realize they're suffering from heart disease until they show up at the emergency room.
"As a result everything gets delayed and in terms of coronary arteries and oxygen to your heart, time is critical."
So Dr. Cheng says it's better to be safe and err on the side of caution when it comes to heart disease.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see a physician immediately because it could mean the difference between life and death.
St. Joseph is offering free heart score testing Feb. 27 - March 2. To learn more about the clinic, click here.