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Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

Common Myths About Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

While certain risk factors cannot be changed, it is important to realize that you do have control over many others. Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk of heart disease; 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.
 
Some women believe that doing just one healthy thing will take care of all of their heart disease risk. For example, they may think that if they walk or swim regularly, they can still smoke and stay fairly healthy. Sadly, this is not correct. To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each risk factor you have. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But making them is very important.
 
Other women may wonder: "If I only have one risk factor for heart disease -- say, I'm overweight or I have high blood cholesterol -- aren't I more or less 'safe?'" Absolutely not. Each risk factor greatly increases a woman's chance of developing heart disease. But having more than one risk factor is especially serious, because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects. So, the message is clear: Every woman needs to take her risk for heart disease seriously -- and take action now to reduce that risk.
 

Women and Heart Disease Risk

The first step toward good heart health is becoming aware of your own personal risk for heart disease. Some risks, such as smoking cigarettes, are obvious. Every woman knows whether or not she smokes. But other risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, generally don't have obvious signs or symptoms. So you'll need to gather some information to create your personal "heart profile."
 
(Click Heart Disease Risk to learn your risk of heart disease in the next 10 years.)
 
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Heart Disease in Women

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