What are the risk factors for heart attack in women?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks are erroneously believed to occur primarily in men. Although it is true that the prevalence of CAD among women is lower before menopause, the risk of CAD rises in women after menopause. At age 75, a woman's risk for CAD is equal to that of a man's. CAD is the leading cause of death and disability in women after menopause. In fact, a 50-year-old woman faces a 46% risk of developing CAD and a 31% risk of dying from coronary artery disease. In contrast, her probability of contracting and dying from breast cancer is 10% and 3%, respectively.
The risk factors for developing CAD in women are the same as in men and include:
• increased blood cholesterol,
• high blood pressure,
• smoking cigarettes,
• diabetes mellitus, and a
• family history of coronary heart disease at a young age.
Even "light" smoking raises the risk of CAD. In one study, middle-aged women who smoked one to 14 cigarettes per day had a twofold increase in strokes (caused by atherosclerosis of the arteries to the brain) whereas those who smoked more than 25 cigarettes per day had a risk of stroke 3.7 fold higher than that of nonsmoking women. Furthermore, the combination of smoking and the use of birth control pills increase the risk of heart attacks even further, especially in women over 35.
Quitting smoking immediately begins to reduce the risk of heart attacks. The risk gradually returns to the same risk of nonsmoking women after several years of not smoking.
Cholesterol treatment guidelines in women
Current NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) treatment guidelines for undesirable cholesterol levels are the same for women as for men.
What are the symptoms of heart attack in women and how is heart attack diagnosed?
Women are more likely to encounter delays in establishing the diagnosis... [continues]
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