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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 family history.

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? calculator.gif

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.

Healthy lifestyle

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.


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 recommended.3
  • 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).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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