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What Every Woman Needs to Know About Heart Disease

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Updated March 29, 2010

Did you know that 1 of 3 women die of heart disease? Sadly, only about one-third of women know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States; it's also the number one killer of men. Not only can heart disease lead to death, but it can also lead to disability and a greatly decreased quality of life.

The Cold Hard Facts About Heart Disease

  • Heart disease kills more people each year than all other causes of death combined including all forms of cancer, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

  • Heart disease is the single most preventable cause of death. Lifestyle factors play a key role in heart disease. Things like smoking, failing to get regular exercise, and eating a non-healthy diet can significantly increase your risk of hear disease.

  • Many factors play a role in who is at risk of dying of heart disease including race, geography, and what state you live in.

  • Among the many changes menopause brings women is that it is a time when a woman's risk of heart disease starts to increase. For several decades it was believed that post-menopausal estrogen replacement or estrogen with progestin would help protect women against heart disease. However, this is no longer the case since the Women's Health Initiative study found that estrogen with progestin actually increases heart disease risk and causes more risks than benefits.

  • Unfortunately, many women do not take their risk of heart disease personally. Often women think, as many of us do, that "It won't happen to me." Many times women don't realize the connections between such risk factors as hypertension or high cholesterol levels, and how these affect their personal risk of developing heart disease.

  • Most of us know the so-called "normal" symptoms of heat attack-- pain down the left arm, chest pain or pressure, etc.. But did you know that women often experience heart attack symptoms in a different way than men?
    See: A Woman's Heart - Symptoms of Heart Attack In Women

  • So what are you doing to prevent yourself from becoming a victim heart disease or a heart attack?

What You Can Do To Help Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease?

  • Schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about your personal heart disease risk.
    See: Questions to ask your doctor

  • If you smoke, quit. Not only does smoking increase your risk of heart disease, it also presents a whole host of other health issues that are uniquely women.
    See: Smoking - The Women's Health Perspective

  • Most Americans are not getting enough physical activity. Just one hour of aerobic activity 3 to 5 times a week as been shown to significantly lower your risk of heart disease, and several forms of cancer.
  • Obesity and it's related complications are a major cause of heart disease. Did you know that over fifty percent of Americans are considered overweight with a BMI of over 25, and one-quarter of American adults are obese with a BMI of over 30?
    See: Eating For A Healthy Heart

Heart disease takes many years to develop, often starting during the teen years. It's never too early or too late to start taking these preventative measures against heart disease.

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