Risk Factors for Women

Risk factors are things that make it more likely a person will get heart disease; the more you have, the greater your risk. With the exception of family history, risk factors can be changed to lower your risk of heart disease.  In fact, it is believed that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable with control of these risk factors. 

To protect your heart health, it's important to understand heart disease risk factors, some of which play a bigger role among women than they do in men.

The following established risk factors for heart disease affect women at about the same rate as men:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • physical inactivity
  • obesity or overweight
  • family history
  • age greater than 55 for women (45 for men)

These factors affect both men and women, but doctors are finding that they may have a bigger impact on women:

  • diabetes
  • cigarette smoking
  • elevated c-reactive protein (CRP)
  • elevated homocysteine
  • stress
  • depression
  • chronic kidney disorder
  • metabolic syndrome
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome

Women’s risk for heart disease also tends to increases if they:

  • miss regular check-ups with their physician
  • ignore their medical needs while caring for others
  • continue to think of heart disease as a "man's disease"

Heart disease isn't something women should ignore. Understanding your heart health can help you lower your risk and keep your heart healthy for years to come.