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Menopause and Heart Disease Risk

People who have more than one specific risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) may be at much greater risk for heart disease than people with no risk factors. Take this quick quiz to assess your risk.

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

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1) Do you have high blood pressure?

Yes or No

High blood pressure can strain the heart and increase wear and tear on the blood vessels, making a blockage more likely.

2) Are you African-American?

Yes or No

Black individuals are more likely than white individuals to develop severe high blood pressure, as well as CHD. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican-Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian-Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

3) Are you a male?

Yes or No

Men have a higher risk of CHD than women do. However, the risk of CHD in postmenopausal women increases and becomes similar to that of men.

4) Do your parents or other family members have heart disease?

Yes or No

The genetic make-up of some individuals increases their chances of developing CHD.

5) Are you over the age of 40?

Yes or No

The older you get, the more likely you are to develop CHD.

6) Do you have high cholesterol?

Yes or No

High cholesterol can contribute to the build-up of plaques that can clog the blood vessels leading to the heart, narrowing them and potentially blocking blood flow to the heart.

7) Do you smoke?

Yes or No

Nicotine in cigarettes speeds up the heart and also narrows the arteries, making it harder for enough blood to get through.

8) Do you have diabetes?

Yes or No

About three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. Even when blood sugar levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, but the risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well controlled.

9) Are you physically inactive, overweight, or obese?

Yes or No

An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for CHD. Regular physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease. And people who have excess body fat -- especially around the waist -- are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors. Exercise can help control cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in many people.

Other factors may also contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. These may include an individual's stress level and consumption of alcohol. Talk to your doctor about your specific situation, taking all factors into consideration.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG on June 25, 2012

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