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Heart Disease Risks

Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. Women who die suddenly from heart disease, 63 percent had no previous signs of disease.

Heart Disease Risks

Smoking
Smoking is the biggest risk factor for heart attacks in women, according to the American Heart Association®.

Physical inactivity
Being active reduces the risk of heart disease. There are several, easy, small, practical ways women can increase their activity level.

High blood pressure and cholesterol
Unhealthy blood pressure and/or blood cholesterol levels can lead to serious heart problems, such as heart attack and stroke. Make sure you have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked at your next doctor visit. If your numbers are high, talk to your doctor about how to lower them—and how frequently you need to have them checked.

Alcohol
If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Try to consume no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Drinking more can increase the dangers of high blood pressure and obesity, which in turn can boost the threat of heart disease.

Obesity
According to the American Heart Association, people who have excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease, even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart and influences blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Shedding as little as 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your heart disease risk.

Diet
In addition to staying trim, make sure you eat the right foods. A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol can reduce your risk for a heart attack. Adding a fiber supplement also may help lower cholesterol when it's part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Stress
Try to take steps to reduce your stress level. Studies have shown that stress and how people deal with it can influence the likelihood of heart disease. When faced with stress, people tend to overeat, smoke, or drink more—escalating risk factors.

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