Know Your Risk for Heart Disease

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mother and daughter making heart with hands

Are you ready to make your heart a top priority? The first step is knowing your risk. 

Four out of five women, age 40–60, have at least one risk factor for heart disease. 

The good news is a majority of heart disease risk factors are within your control. Each of the following risk factors increases your chance of developing heart disease. 

Smoking 

Nearly as many female smokers die from heart disease as from lung cancer. UnityPoint Health – Meriter offers one of the most successful smoking cessation programs available anywhere. Learn more about our smoking cessation program if you’re ready to stop smoking. 

High Blood Pressure 

Even a slightly high blood pressure doubles your risk for heart disease. 

High Cholesterol 

About one-third of all American women have cholesterol levels high enough to pose a serious heart disease risk. 

Obesity

‘Obesity’ is defined as a BMI (body mass index) over 30 kg/m2. Meriter recommends a BMI under 30. Use this BMI calculator to learn yours. 

Unhealthy Diet 

A diet high in saturated fat and trans fat and lacking fruits, vegetables and whole grains can lead to a number of serious health issues. 

Physical Inactivity 

A sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Strive for at least a 20-minute brisk walk daily. 

Diabetes (Type 1 and 2) 

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes makes a woman 3–7 times more likely to develop heart disease. 

Stress 

Stress raises blood pressure and often leads to higher food or alcohol consumption. 

Family History* 

If you have a blood relative (parent or sibling) with heart disease, your risk considerably increases. The more you know about your family's health history, the more you can do to protect yourself. 

Age* 

Your risk for heart disease increases with age. 

*You cannot change your age or family history, but you can control your lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk significantly.

Learn more about maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle with Women's HeartCare, a lifestyle program designed to prevent and treat heart disease and improve overall health and well-being. Learn more about Women’s HeartCare.