Heart disease is the leading killer of women.
Major risk factors that you can't change:
- Advancing age
About four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are age 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are twice as likely as men are to die from them within a few weeks.
- Heredity (including race)
Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe hypertension than whites. Consequently, their risk of heart disease is greater. Hispanic women are also at higher risk for heart disease.
Major risk factors for heart disease that you can change, treat or modify:
Smoking is a woman's single biggest risk factor for heart attack - more than twice that of non-smokers.
- High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an "equal opportunity" problem. It increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to enlarge and weaken over time.
- High blood cholesterol levels
The risk of coronary heart disease rises as blood cholesterol levels increase. Although cholesterol levels are affected by age, sex, heredity and diet, women need to take the initiative toward healthy eating for themselves and for their family
Diabetes creates higher risk for women with coronary artery disease. If you have diabetes, it's critically important for you to monitor and control any other risk factors you can.
- Obesity and overweight
Women who have excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. It's directly linked with coronary heart disease because it influence blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and makes diabetes more likely to develop.
- Physical inactivity
Want to overcome the risk? Get moving. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise plays a significant role in preventing heart and blood vessel disease.
- High levels of stress
Individual responses to stress may be a contributing factor. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.
For more information on your risk factors, click here.