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Article Approved by Licensed Medical Personnel - heart disease, cardiac disease, women's heart disease risks, menopause and heart disease, hysterectomy and heart disease, family history and heart diseaseCauses of Heart Disease; Risk Factors for Women and Men

This despite an aggressive campaign by the medical community and US Government alike to educate people about heart disease risk factors, the advice is often ignored by many with disastrous consequences. In this article, we will explore some of the statistics surrounding heart disease with the main focus on the multiple and sometimes complicated causes of heart disease.

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Around the world, heart disease continues to rise as the leading cause of death. In the United States, death from cardiac-related diseases and complications continues to be the number 1 killer of adults.  Women are number one on this list.    

General Causes of Heart Disease

There are many causes of cardiac disease, or in laymen' s terms, heart disease. Often, the underlying causes are complex For the purpose of today's article, we will focus on a few key factors identified as major contributors.

According to the National Institutes For Health, the following  heart disease risk factors stood out the most:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a family history of early heart disease
  • Age (55 or older for women)

Family History and Heart Disease

Family history of early heart disease is another risk factor that can't be changed.  If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to get heart disease yourself.

Women's Cardiac Disease Risk - Hormonal Changes and Menopause Contribute to Heart Disease

For women, age becomes a risk factor at 55. After menopause, women are more likely to get heart disease, in part because their body' s production of estrogen drops.  Women who have gone through early menopause, either naturally or because they have had a hysterectomy, are two times as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause.

Some women believe that doing just one healthy thing will take care of all of their heart disease risk factors.  For example, they may think that if they walk or swim regularly, they can still smoke and stay fairly healthy. Wrong!  To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each risk factor you have.  You can make the changes gradually, one at a time.  But making them is very important.

Other women may wonder:  "If I have just one risk factor for heart disease—say, I'm overweight or I have high blood cholesterol—aren't I more or less 'safe'?"  Absolutely not.   Each risk factor greatly increases a woman's chance of developing heart disease.  

Having more than one risk factor is especially serious, because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects.  The message is clear:  Every woman needs to take her heart disease risk factors seriously—and take action now to reduce that risk.

Cardiac Disease Risk Factors for Men

Men are also affected by cardiac disease and, with the exception of hormonal changes, their risk factors pretty much mirror women's risk factors. Men often say they have no time for exercise and really do not address the
heart disease risk factors as they should. It is almost as if they are simply in denial about the very things that they are doing now, that will lead to heart attack and stroke later in life.

Conclusion - Reduce the Risks for Heart Disease

While certain risk factors cannot be changed, it is important to realize that you do have control over many others.  Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk of heart disease—and it doesn't have to be complicated.  Protecting your heart can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, whipping up a good vegetable soup, or getting the support you need to maintain a healthy weight.

Heart disease risk factors should be taken seriously by all, whether male or female. The wonderful thing about identifying your own risk factors is that you are taking the first step in lessening the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Actually following through with an action plan is the next step.