Women and Heart Disease

Did You Know?

  • Heart disease is the number one killer and number one disabler of American women
  • Heart disease is estimated to claim to life of one in every three women
  • No previous risk of heart disease was identified in 64% of the women who died from the disease
  • Women are more likely than men to die in the first year following a heart attack
  • Heart disease in women is often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late in the process of the disease

Are You at Risk?

A recent survey revealed that most women believe they are not at risk for heart disease. The truth is that all women are at risk.

Take a Heart Health Risk Assessment

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Studies have identified several factors that increase the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. The American Heart Association has identified several risk factors. Some of them can be modified, treated or controlled, and some can't. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary artery disease.

Non-preventable risk factors:

  • Increasing age - Four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are more likely than men are to die.
  • Race - African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Heredity - People with a family history of heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. Since you can't control your age, race and family history, it's even more important to treat and control any other risk factors you have.

Heartistry Online ToolPreventable risk factors:

These risk factors can be modified by changing your lifestyle or taking medication.

  • Tobacco smoke - Smokers' risk of developing coronary artery disease is 2-4 times that of nonsmokers. Individuals with heart disease who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to experience sudden cardiac death compared to nonsmokers with heart disease. Exposure to other people's smoke increases the risk of heart disease even for nonsmokers.
  • High blood cholesterol - As blood cholesterol rises, so does the risk of heart disease
  • High blood pressure - High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer. When high blood pressure exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times.
  • Physical inactivity - An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for heart disease. Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol levels, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure.
  • Obesity and overweight - People who have excess body fat - especially if the majority is stored around the waist - are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors. By losing even as few as 10 pounds, you can lower your heart disease risk.
  • Diabetes mellitus - Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Learn More

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