Heart Disease Risk Factors in Men and Women

There are several risk factors for heart disease that you should be aware of – not only so that you know what to expect and when, but also so that you can take steps to avert the heart disease and perhaps tragedy. We list out below some of the important risk factors that everybody should be aware of.

1. Lifestyle factors

heart-diseaseIt is well documented that those who have sedentary lifestyles, suffer from obesity or those who have poor dietary habits that are high in saturated or transfats, sugar, salt and processed foods are at greater risk of heart disease. Excess weight and unhealthy foods put excess strain on the heart, predisposing a person to heart disease. Lifestyle factors can be amended and controlled by a person by exercising regularly, eating healthy and keeping weight within safe limits.

2. Poor Habits

Smoking is known to contribute to heart disease and research has shown that those who smoke are twice at the risk of developing heart disease as the general populace. Also avoid second hand smoke and drinking in excess.

3. Pre-existing Conditions

Conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol levels, diabetes, particularly if these conditions are not well controlled, put one at higher risk of developing heart disease.

4. Stress

The clichéd image of the stress or grief causing some poor soul a heart attack is unfortunately not far from the truth. Uncontrolled stress and unresolved anger causes hormonal changes and is also known to contribute to heart disease risk.

5. Uncontrollable risk factors

There are certain factors such as age, race, sex and family history that also predispose a person to heart disease, which however are beyond one’s control. If for instance a person has a family history of heart disease they are likelier to have it themselves. Also being male and being past a certain age put one more at risk of heart attacks. Also African Americans, Mexican Americans and American Indians are more at risk than Caucasians.

Risk factors for women

Women tend to have a natural protection against heart disease during their reproductive years because of the protection accorded by estrogen. However after the age of 50 (after menopause) this natural protection reduces and women become more prone.

Another reason why women have to beware of heart disease is the fact that they display signs of heart attack differently than men – the usual symptoms of chest pain and pressure may be absent, and other more subtle symptoms of feeling fatigued, nauseas and so on may be present.