What are the factors that increase your risk of heart disease? While some cannot be changed—age, family history and race—others can be managed. Heart disease is largely preventable because there are a number of things you can change to lower your risk.
Here are some details about the risk factors and a quiz to help you figure out whether your have a "Healthy Heart," a "Coping Heart" or a "Broken Heart."
Age: risk increases for women after menopause.
Family History: risk is higher if an immediate family member had heart disease at an early age (mother, father, brother, sister).
Race: risk is higher for African-American and Hispanic women.
(To learn more about healthy target numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose or blood sugar, body mass index and your waist measurement, click here.)
Smoking: This is the single, most preventable cause of heart disease death, increasing your risk of a heart attack by two to six times that of nonsmokers.
Excess Weight and High Body Mass Index: These factors increase your risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, which in turn increase your risk of heart disease. Body Mass Index Chart
High Blood Pressure: Even a slightly elevated level doubles the risk of heart disease, and nearly half of all women over age 55 have it.
Cholesterol: In women, it's important to know not just the total cholesterol level, but also the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) levels.
Diabetes: Regardless of age or other risk factors, diabetes significantly increases a woman's risk of heart disease. But diabetes often goes undiagnosed. Check with your doctor about diabetes screening, especially if you are overweight or obese.
Depression: Twice as common in women as men, depression increases the risk of heart disease by two to three times compared with those who aren't depressed.
Sleep Apnea: This disorder, characterized by loud snoring and/or daytime fatigue, can increase blood pressure and lead to heart disease. Weight loss, exercise and other lifestyle changes are the first level of treatment. Talk with your doctor about managing this disorder.
C - reactive protein: A high level in the blood indicates inflammation in the body, and studies link high CRP levels to heart attack risk. Weight loss, exercise and other lifestyle changes can help lower CRP.
Listen to Your Heart: Women at Risk is a public service campaign co-sponsored by NBC4 and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.