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Heart disease serious problem for women

Risk factors for heart disease in-crease in women over age 55.
October 12, 2005 - For those who think that cardiovascular di-sease is not a serious problem for women, think again.

Each minute, about one woman in the United States suffers from a new or repeat heart attack. Additionally, within six years after a recognized heart attack, 35 percent of women may suffer a second event.

Knowing your own risk factors for heart disease is crucial. Just consider a few facts:

More than half of those who have total blood cholesterol above healthy levels are women.

More than half of those with high blood pressure are women.

One in five women age 18 or older smokes.

Nearly one in every three women is obese.

Nine million women have diabetes. This is a leading cause of heart disease.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes all are serious risk factors for heart disease. Lack of activity and obesity also are factors. Your risk also increases if you are over age 55.

Also, women do not show the same warning signs of heart attack as men. Women may feel nauseous. They may even feel tired and dizzy or have a hard time breathing.

Even if you do not have "symptoms" of a heart attack, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor.

A hidden problem you may not think of could be family history. Just like physical features, heart problems often run in families and that, too, can increase your risk.

Improving your diet and getting more exercise are good starting points to lower your risk of heart disease. But for two of three people, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough. Sometimes, you may need to add medicines. For example, your doctor may prescribe a drug that lowers cholesterol called a statin that lowers your risk of having a heart attack if you have multiple risk factors for heart disease.

If you think you might be at risk, then don't wait. Make an appointment to talk to your doctor about your heart health. Im-prove your diet. Exercise more often.

If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, adding a drug that lowers cholesterol may help.

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