Heart Disease: Reducing Your Risks
Do you think you're at low risk for heart disease just because
you're female? Think again: a recent study of 30,000 women showed that fewer
than 10% white women and 5% of African-American women are at low risk for
Women have the same risks for heart disease as men. . .and then some. The
risks that men and women share are smoking, family history, high cholesterol,
high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes. But women
are at much great cardiac risk from diabetes than men. Women with diabetes
are at the same risk of dying from a heart attack as women who have already
had a heart attack!
Many women are now aware that menopause is also an increased risk factor, and
premature menopause before age 40 is an even greater risk.
Few women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are aware that this puts them at increased
risk for heart disease. In this syndrome, an excess of male hormones is produced
causing ovarian cysts, menstrual abnormalities, weight gain, increased LDL (the
"bad cholesterol") and facial or body hair growth. Insulin resistance is also
a complication as is a condition called "The Metabolic Syndrome" which affects
more women than men.
The good news is that most of these risks can be reduced. Increasing exercise
and cutting back on calories (particularly from processed carbohydrates) is
probably the best start for most people who are overweight. Guidelines also
recommend that all men over age 40 and women over age 50 with one cardiac risk
factor talk with their doctors about taking an aspirin each day to further reduce
For more information on cardiac risk reduction
Created: 6/19/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.