is a positive aspect to heart and cardiovascular disease–it
is often preventable. Most of the risk factors are easily changed
or avoided to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle. Even if you have
a family history of cardiovascular disease, you can avoid some
of the major risk factors and significantly reduce your personal
The most common preventable risk factors associated with cardiovascular
- Smoking – Approximately 21.2 million women smoke.
- Diabetes – Nearly 7 million women have been diagnosed with
diabetes and another 3 million remain undiagnosed.
- High blood pressure – 33 percent of women have hypertension.
- High cholesterol – About 56.5 million women have high total
- Physical Inactivity – More women than men are physically inactive,
with 41 percent of women engaging in no leisure-time physical
activity and more than 60 percent of women do not meet the recommended
30 minutes a day of moderately intense physical activity, such
as brisk walking.
- Overweight and Obesity – 62 percent of women are overweight,
including about 33 percent who are obese.*
* According to the National
Institutes of Health's The Heart Truth
Hormone therapy is speculated to be a possible risk factor associated
with cardiovascular disease. The birth control pill has also been
associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular
disease. However, the new low-dose pills have made that risk negligible.
Smoking while taking the birth control pill, especially after the
age of 35, puts you at a high risk for cardiovascular disease,
Some risk factors you can't prevent. The unpreventable risk factors
- Age – Your risk for cardiovascular disease increases as you
age and is amplified after menopause with a reduction in the
- Family history – If you have a family history of heart disease
in any form, you may be at a greater risk for developing heart
Diabetes and Heart Disease
2 Diabetes is becoming more and more widespread among American
women. This is not the type of diabetes that you are born with,
but the type that you create with a lifestyle of obesity, physical
inactivity and an unhealthy diet. People that have been diagnosed
with diabetes are, as a rule, more likely to suffer from heart
disease. In fact, two out of every three people who are diagnosed
with diabetes will die from heart disease or stroke (according
to the American
Diabetes Association). That's because when you have diabetes,
your blood sugar level is much higher than it should be. And too
much sugar in your blood may cause damage to your blood vessels
and other areas of your body.
Diabetes means that your body does not produce enough insulin
or ignores the insulin in your blood. Insulin is important because
it takes up all of the sugar in your blood and transports it to
your cells. Lack of insulin or insulin resistance causes your cells
to be starved for energy. Over time, it can damage your heart,
kidneys and nerves.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to practice
proper management of your disease in order to keep your risk for
developing heart disease in check. You will need to speak with your
physician about a plan for you to make serious lifestyle changes.
You will need to make more healthful choices in your diet, exercise
more, and manage stress in your life. By keeping your general health
under control, you will significantly reduce the risk for complications
from diabetes, including heart disease. It's important to act as
soon as you are diagnosed, and not to put your healthy lifestyle
changes off until it's too late. Even though being diagnosed with
diabetes is scary, it is not a life sentence. Women all over the
country live healthy and long lives with diabetes, once they get
their disease under control.