Heart Health at the Drexel Center for Women's Health
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Many risk factors for heart disease are shared by men and women, but there are some significant differences. The top factors for heart disease that men and women share (besides being overweight and having a family history, which affect each differently) are:
When a woman develops diabetes, her risk of heart attack is higher than that of a man who develops diabetes.
More women smoke than men. Women who smoke are 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack than men who smoke. Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at a high risk of sudden death.
50 percent of women over the age of 45 have hypertension or high blood pressure, which plays an important role in stroke. One third of people with hypertension don't know they have it, and of those who are on medicine, less than one quarter are adequately treated.
25 percent of women have abnormal cholesterol levels, but a staggering 70 percent don't know their levels.
Heart attack and stroke are preventable in women!
To lower your risks, eat healthy foods, increase physical activity, lose weight and stop smoking. Learn as much as you can about the factors that contribute to heart disease and stroke, and bring them up at your doctor's visit.
Cardiovascular Risk Assessment
A risk assessment helps determine if you are likely to have a heart attack.
Your physician will consider your:
- Blood pressure
- Family history
- Physical activity level
Should I see a physician for a risk assessment?
If you answer YES to ANY of the questions below then you may need to see your physician for a cardiovascular risk assessment.
1. Have you had.....?
- A heart attack
- A stroke
- A transient ischemic attack
- Diabetes with or without kidney problems
If you answered yes to these conditions, you may be in a very high risk category. Modifying or changing your lifestyle can reduce your risk to help keep you healthy. You should visit your physician periodically for a check-up.
2. Are you.....?
- Male and older than 45
- Female and older than 55
- And have one of the following?
- Smoking (or recently stopped)
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history of cardiovascular disease: Father or brother who has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease before the age of 55; mother or sister who has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease before the age of 65
- Parents or siblings diagnosed with diabetes
- Told by your physician you are at risk of developing diabetes
The more times you answered yes, the greater your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If you answered NO but are concerned, then you should see your physician for a comprehensive risk assessment.
If you answered YES to the previous questions, follow these steps:
Step 1) Risk Assessment:
See your physician who can conduct a detailed cardiovascular risk evaluation. The evaluation may include blood tests, EKG, stress test, and echocardiogram. Your physician will be able to assess your risk as low, moderate, or high.
Step 2) Options for reducing your risk:
Once you know your risk, your physician will discuss ways to help you reduce the risk. This may include lifestyle advice alone, or lifestyle advice and drug therapy.
Step 3) Make a plan:
Plan changes in your lifestyle that will improve your health and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Step 4) Check-ups:
Keep a personal record of your progress. Your physician will want to monitor your progress through regular check-ups.
Heart Health Physicians
Paulina Gorodin, M.D.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.