Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Easy Blood Test May Reveal Women's Heart Risk

White Blood Cell Count May Work When Other Tests for Heart Disease Fail

WebMD Health News

March 14, 2005 - A woman's white blood cell count may not only be a sign of how healthy her immune system is, but it may also reveal her risk of heart disease when other tests fail, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that women with the highest white blood cell counts had twice the risk of dying of heart disease than those with the lowest levels, even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight, or high blood pressure.

White blood cells are cells that help the body fight infection and other diseases. The immune system typically releases more white blood cells in response to infection.

The results lend support to a growing body of evidence that suggests infection and the resulting inflammation it causes within the body play a critical role in heart disease and hardening of the arteries.

If further studies confirm this association between white blood cell count and heart disease risk, researchers say this inexpensive and widely available blood test may spot those at risk for a heart attack or stroke who are not identified by other risk factors.

White Blood Cells May Indicate Heart Health

In the study, which appears in the March 14 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at data collected from more than 70,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. All of the women were free of heart disease at the start of the study and were followed for an average of about six years.

The women's white blood cell counts were also measured at the start of the study, and researchers divided the women into four levels according to their initial white blood cell counts.

The results showed that women in the top fourth with the highest white blood cell counts were twice as likely to die of heart disease during the study period than those in the lowest fourth, after adjusting for other risk factors.

In addition, women in the top fourth also had a 40% higher risk of nonfatal heart attack, 46% higher risk of stroke, and 50% higher risk of death due to any cause.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure