In A Woman’s Heart #2, I was saddened to learn that I already had two risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. Even the presence of one risk factor increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Since one in every two women in the U.S. die of cardiovascular related disease, I was not happy to see that I am already at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Both of my existing risk factors fell into the category of things beyond my control – age, postmenopausal, family history and ethnicity. In addition to the things we can’t control, there are a number of risk factors that we can control with respect to developing cardiovascular disease. Ladies, shall we continue and see what other surprises await us?
Smoking – Sorry, ladies, about this one. Smoking increases your risk not only of heart attack but stroke and lung cancer as well. If you like to smoke, you really should consider quitting. Quitting smoking will decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by half.
High blood pressure – High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Anything above 140/90 is considered high. It was surprising to me to learn that pre-hypertension (120-139/80-89) also raises your risk of cardiovascular disease.
High Cholesterol – Uh oh… Ladies, I’m totally busted on this one. My cholesterol has been high since they first tested it in my 20s! (I wonder if that means I have a double risk?) You have two forms of cholesterol:
o1) “Bad” cholesterol (LDL – low density lipoprotein) which leads to blockages and may cause a heart attack. If the LDL number is above 160, it’s too high.
o2) “Good” cholesterol (HDL - high-density lipoprotein). If your HDL is less than 40, you are at an increased risk of heart disease. An HDL of more than 60 increases the amount of protection against cardiovascular disease.
Your total cholesterol combined should be less than 200. I think I’ll give myself two checkmarks on this one. I failed!!!
Weight – (I am beginning to not like these risk factors!!! How about you?) Why does everything always come back to your weight?