Women at Risk (Heart Health)
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. Important risk factors for heart disease include cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, being overweight, not getting enough physical activity, and having diabetes.
Some risk factors, such as age and family history of heart disease, can’t be changed. For women, age becomes a risk factor at 55. After menopause, women are more apt to get heart disease, in part because their bodies stop producing estrogen. Women who have gone through early menopause, either naturally or because they have had a hysterectomy, are twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause.
Family history of early heart disease is another risk factor that can’t be changed. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to develop heart disease yourself.
While you can’t change certain risk factors, it is important to realize that you have control over many others. Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk of heart disease â€” and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Protecting your heart can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, whipping up a good vegetable soup, or getting the support you need to maintain a healthy weight.