Heart Disease Risk in Women

Most women don't realize that their risk factors for heart disease are different than those of men.

Women and Heart Disease: Unique Risk Factors

Known risk factors for heart disease include age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking history, diabetes and family history of heart disease. However, there are other factors particular to women.


  • Women who have high job stress have a 40 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and an 88 percent increase in heart attack risk
  • Conditions involving chronic inflammation such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis nearly double a woman's risk for heart disease
  • Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke later in life
  • Metabolic syndrome is a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides. This has a greater impact on women than on men
  • Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men
  • Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels

To assess your risk online, visit our heart health risk assessment

Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk: Lifestyle Changes

There are things you can do in your everyday life to reduce your risk for heart disease. Lifestyle changes that make a big difference include:


  • Eating right
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing stress
  • Exercising can all make a difference

Read more about How to Improve Your Heart Health