Women and Coronary Artery Disease - Topic Overview
Heart disease risk factors for both women and men
Risk factors for coronary artery disease that are common in women and men include
smoking, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, and
How will my doctor determine my risk for coronary artery disease?
Your doctor will calculate your risk for coronary artery
disease by assessing the number of risk factors you have. Your doctor might use this tool to calculate your risk of a heart attack:
- Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
Your doctor might find your risk for coronary artery disease using a different, but similar, method. These methods give you and your doctor a good idea about your risk. And they can help you decide if you should take steps to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
What can women do to prevent coronary artery disease?
Women can use healthy lifestyle changes and medicines to help prevent
coronary artery disease. Women can also balance the risks and benefits of
hormone therapy when they decide whether or not to use it.
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent heart disease. And it can help you manage other problems that raise your risk of heart disease. These problems include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Stop smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, which focuses on adding more healthy
foods to your diet and cutting back on foods that are not so good for you. Heart-healthy eating plans include the:
- American Heart Association Healthy Diet.
- DASH Diet.
- Be active. Try to do
moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to
vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It's fine
to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and
week. Do strength exercises at least 2 days a week. For more information, see the topic:
- Keep your
body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 and your
waist circumference less than 35 inches. To check your BMI:
- Interactive Tool: Is Your BMI Increasing Your Health Risks?
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (an average of 1 drink a
day for women). If you do not drink, don't start.
You might take medicines, along with making healthy lifestyle changes, to lower your risk of heart disease. If you already have heart disease, medicine can help you prevent a heart attack or stroke. You might take:
- High blood pressure medicine.
- High cholesterol medicine.
- Aspirin. Your doctor may suggest that you take a daily, low-dose
aspirin if the benefits of aspirin to prevent a stroke are greater than the
risk of stomach bleeding from taking daily aspirin. But the daily use of
low-dose aspirin in healthy women who are at low risk of stroke is not
- An anticoagulant, also called a blood thinner, to lower your risk of stroke if you have atrial fibrillation.
- Medicine to lower the workload on your heart. If you have been diagnosed with CAD or have had a heart attack,
you will probably take heart medicines like
beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)
inhibitors, or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).