Heart Disease Risk Factors for Women

2005 Update
By Lynne Perry-Bottinger, MD

The major coronary artery disease risk factors are: diabetes, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol profile, obesity, tobacco use, family history of premature CHD (first heart attack of male relative less than 55 years old and female relative less than 65 years old).

After menopause, women have the same risk of heart disease as men. Diabetes poses a greater risk factor for women than men irrespective of menopausal status with a 3 to 7 times higher incidence of CHD. Elevated LDL,orbadcholesterol,(>70 if you already have CHD or DM) portends a worse prognosis for women than men. The HDL or good cholesterol should be greater than 40. Also know your homocysteine and c-reactive protein levels.

Women are more likely than men to have non chest-related symptoms, such as: fatigue, jaw, neck, abdominal, arm or back pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath. Contact your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.