What is Heart Disease?
When you hear the term “heart disease,” you may think, “That’s a man’s disease” or “Not my problem.” But here is The Heart Truth®: one in four women in the United States dies of heart disease, while one in 30 dies of breast cancer. If you’ve got a heart, heart disease could be your problem.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
An astonishing 80 percent of women ages 40 to 60 have one or more risk factor for heart disease. Having one or more risk factors dramatically increases a woman’s chance of developing heart disease because risk factors tend to worsen each other’s effects. In fact, according to research compiled by the NHLBI, having just one risk factor doubles your chance of developing heart disease.
Whatever a woman’s age, she needs to take action to protect her heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and women in their 20s and 30s need to take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease. Yet among U.S. women ages 18 and older, 17.3 percent are current smokers, 51.6 are overweight (BMI of 25 or greater), 27 percent have hypertension, 35 percent have high cholesterol, and 53 percent do not meet physical activity recommendations. African American and Hispanic women, in particular, have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and are disproportionately affected by the disease compared to white women. More than 80 percent of midlife African American women are overweight or obese, 52 percent have hypertension, and 14 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes. Some 83 percent of midlife Hispanic women are overweight or obese, and more than 10 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes.
How Do I Find Out if I Am at Risk for Heart Disease?
Some women believe that doing just one healthy thing will take care of all their heart disease risk. For example, they may think that if they walk or swim regularly, they can still smoke and stay fairly healthy. This is wrong. To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each risk factor you have.
A damaged heart can damage your life by interfering with enjoyable activities and even your ability to do simple things, such as taking a walk or climbing steps. Heart disease cannot be “cured.” It is a lifelong condition—once you get it, you’ll always have it.
Fortunately, it’s a problem you can do something about. Find out your risk for heart disease and take steps to prevent and control it. Talk to your doctor to get more answers. Start taking action today to protect your heart. By doing just 4 things—eating right, being physically active, not smoking, and keeping a healthy weight—you can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent.
To learn more about heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders, visit the NHLBI Health Topics.
According to CDC, Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes one in three (approximately 800,000) deaths each year in the United States. Total annual costs resulting from CVD are estimated at $444 billion. Based on data from the 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 49.7%, or an estimated 107.3 million U.S. adults aged ≥20 years, have at least one of the following three preventable CVD risk factors: uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled high cholesterol, or smoking.
To reduce the prevalence of these CVD risk factors, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with nonprofit and private organizations, is launching Million Hearts, a multifaceted combination of evidence-based interventions designed to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. Among the effective clinical services that can substantially reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are the ABCS: aspirin therapy, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation.
Million Hearts: Strategies to Reduce the Prevalence of Leading Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors — United States, 2011
On September 13, 2011, this report was posted as an MMWR Early Release on the MMWR website (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6036a4.htm?s_cid=mm6036a4_w).
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes one in three (approximately 800,000) deaths reported each year in the United States (1). Annual direct and overall costs resulting from CVD are estimated at $273 billion and $444 billion, respectively (2). Strategies that address leading CVD risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and smoking, can greatly reduce the burden of CVD (3). To estimate the U.S. prevalence of these three risk factors, CDC analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and current smoking. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which found that 49.7% of U.S. adults aged ≥20 years (an estimated 107.3 million persons) have at least one of the three risk factors. To reduce the prevalence of CVD risk factors among persons in the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with nonprofit and private organizations, is launching Million Hearts, a multifaceted combination of evidence-based interventions and strategies aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. Read more.