Cardiac risks for women

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Submitted by Dr T on December 2, 2011 – 11:28am

Question: 
Am I at a higher risk for heart disease than a man? I am a 36 yo woman, about 30 pounds overweight, and smoke. I also have borderline hypertension and am prediabetic since my last pregnancy.

All the things you mentioned, smoking, (pre) hypertension, (pre)diabetic and overweight, increase your risks for heart disease, especially if you also have an abnormal cholesterol. Most of these are similar for men and women, and increase with the number of risk factors as shown in this graph:

However, there are some women-only risks associated with pregnancy (high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes) that may have played a role, as well as polycystic ovaries. In your case, you might also be at risk for Metabolic Syndrome, which also predisposes you to developing heart disease.

While women run a lower risk than men while young, this changes after menopause. Meanwhile, women are more vulnerable than men to the dangers of smoking and other toxic products.

On the good side, there is lots you can do, but they include stop smoking, eat a healthy diet and exercise/lose weight. Tough to do, but not impossible.

Good luck,

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