“If I have just one risk factor for heart disease—
say, I’m overweight or I have high blood cholesterol
—aren’t I more or less “safe”? Unfortunately, no”.1

Umbrella
What may the Heart Disease and Women’s Risk Factors Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
  • Heart Conditions
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Heart Disease/s

Heart Disease

What is heart disease?

DotS the definition of heart disease may vary. The (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition is:

“The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack”.2

Risk Factors

What are risk factors?

DotS the definition of risk factors may vary. The (United States) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) definition is:

“Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. They can also increase the chances that an existing disease will get worse”.3

Heart Disease Risk Factors

What are heart disease risk factors we can do something about?

In Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease the NHLBI explain:

“Important risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high blood cholesterol
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a family history of early heart disease
  • Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Age (55 or older for women)”.4

Age

For women, when does age become a risk factor for heart disease?

According to the NHLBI above:

  • “Age (55 or older for women)”.5

In Keep Your Heart Healthy: The Basics: Overview – Am I At Risk for Heart Disease? the (United States) Healthfinder.gov note:

“Your age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. Your risk is higher if:

  • You’re are a woman over age 55
  • You’re are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65”.6

Family History

Is there an association between family history and heart disease?

Yes. In Family History the British Heart Foundation elaborate on:

“If you have a family history of a heart or circulatory disease, you might have a higher risk of developing conditions that can lead to a heart attack or stroke”.7

Diabetes

Is there an association between diabetes and heart disease?

Yes. In Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke the (United States) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

“Having diabetes means you are more likely to develop heart disease. People with diabetes are also more likely to have certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, that increase their chances of having a heart attack or a stroke”.8

Menopause

Is there an association between menopause and heart disease?

Yes. The NHLBI explain:

Heart Disease and Women’s Risk Factors“Heart disease increases with age, including during and after menopause. In middle age women tend to develop more risk factors for heart disease, in part due to increasing body weight and in part because their body’s production of estrogen drops. Women who go through early menopause, especially if they had a hysterectomy, are more likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause”.9

In Health After Menopause: Cardiovascular Disease the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health note:

“Before menopause, women have a lower risk of heart disease than men, but as women age and their oestrogen levels fall after menopause, their risk of cardiovascular disease increases”.10

Risk Factors

Can risk factors “gang up”?

In Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease the NHLBI also note:

“You may wonder: If I have just one risk factor for heart disease—say, I’m overweight or I have high blood cholesterol—aren’t I more or less “safe”? Unfortunately, no. Each risk factor greatly increases your chance of developing heart disease. But having more than one risk factor is especially serious, because risk factors tend to “gang up” and worsen each other’s effects”.11

Heart Health

What can women do now for their heart health?

In Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Take Action for Your Heart Health the NHLBI also note:

“Here’s some things you can do now for your heart health:

  • Move more
  • Improve your nutrition and eat healthier
  • Check your heart health stats/numbers
  • Improve sleep and reduce stress
  • Stop smoking
  • Aim for a healthy weight”.12

Health Care Provider

What is it important for women to keep in mind about heart disease risk?

In Heart Disease: It’s Not Just for Men – You and Your Doctor: A Heart Healthy Partnership the NHLBI remind us:

“A crucial step in determining your risk is to see your doctor for a thorough checkup. Your doctor can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. But don’t wait for your doctor to mention heart disease or its risk factors. Many doctors don’t routinely bring up the subject with women patients”.13

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Heart Disease and Women’s Risk Factors?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  2. Heart Disease: About Heart Disease – What Is Heart Disease? Page Last Reviewed: 27 September 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm Accessed: 30 March 2022
  3. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  4. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  5. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  6. Keep Your Heart Healthy: The Basics: Overview – Am I At Risk for Heart Disease? Content Last Updated: 08 July 2021. Healthfinder.gov https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy Accessed: 30 March 2022
  7. Family History. Last Updated: December 2021. British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/family-history Accessed: 30 March 2022
  8. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. Last Reviewed: April 2021. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke Accessed: 30 March 2022
  9. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Menopause and Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  10. Health After Menopause: Cardiovascular Disease. Last Updated: 25 March 2021 | Last Reviewed: 17 December 2017. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/health-after-menopause Accessed: 30 March 2022
  11. Listen To Your Heart: Women and Heart Disease – Risk Factors for Heart Disease. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  12. Listen To Your Heart: Learn About Heart Disease – Take Action for Your Heart Health. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/listen-to-your-heart Accessed: 30 March 2022
  13. Heart Disease: It’s Not Just for Men – You and Your Doctor: A Heart Healthy Partnership. National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/heart-disease-not-just-men Accessed: 30 March 2022

Topic Last Updated: 30 March 2022 – Topic Last Reviewed: 30 March 2022
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