Cardiovascular Disease in Women
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in WomenA risk factor is any behavior or condition that increases a person's risk for a disease. Because there are so many types of cardiovascular disease, it is not possible to have just one list of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women. Instead, the specific risk factors will vary based on the type of disease.
That being said, a number of the more common cardiovascular disease types do share certain risk factors. In both men and women, common risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol levels, also known as hypercholesterolemia (see Effects of High Cholesterol)
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension (see Effects of High Blood Pressure)
- Diabetes (see Diabetes Complications)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Being overweight or obese (see BMI Calculator to find your ideal weight)
- Lack of physical activity
- Cigarette smoking (see Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease).
Symptoms of cardiovascular disease in women can be different from those experienced by men. For example, up to 20 percent of women have no chest pain with heart attack symptoms. In many cases, shortness of breath may be the main symptom a woman experiences.
When these women are mistakenly sent home from the emergency room, they are twice as likely to die from their heart problems as similar patients who are admitted to the hospital. Women who tend to have their symptoms misdiagnosed include women under the age of 55 or minorities.