Am I at a higher risk
Heart disease continues to be thought of as a man's disease with little recognition of its importance in women. Women are less likely to seek medical help due to the lack of awareness and may go untreated. This is because of lack of awareness that they may be suffering from heart disease. Women with heart disease may, therefore, go untreated or present late in the disease process.
Being a woman per se is not a risk factor, but once you reach menopause, your risk increases.
Heart disease is a serious condition and may affect quality of life. This is why it is important to address any risk factors you may have at a young age to reduce your risk of developing heart disease in later years. If you have one or more risk factor, do not be afraid to discuss this with your GP who will help you understand how to protect your heart and formulate a plan to decrease your risks.
Don't be afraid to ask questions about any aspect of your health, for example,
What is my blood cholesterol, what does this mean
to my heart, what do I need to do now?
When should I
have it checked again?
What is my blood sugar? Do I have diabetes?
What is my blood pressure, what does this mean to
my heart? When should I have it checked again?
How can I change my diet to help my heart?
How much activity should I undertake each week?
Is there help available to assist me to stop smoking?
What is my ideal weight?
Dietary Risk Factors and Diabetes
Raised Cholesterol Levels
(Hyperlipdaemia or Hypercholestrolaemia)
Hyperlipidaemia is a general term that refers to abnormally raised levels of total blood lipids and can mean an excess of cholesterol and triglyceride in your body. The risk of coronary artery disease is directly related to blood cholesterol levels. Blood cholesterol levels can be reduced by medication, physical activity and dietary changes, in particular a reduction in the consumption of saturated fats. It is estimated that 47% of deaths from coronary artery disease in women are due to a raised blood cholesterol level. Hypercholesterolaemia is common with over half of the Britain have cholesterol levels exceeding the ‘optimal' 5.0mmol/L.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced in your liver and from the fatty foods we consume. Cholesterol is transported around our body by proteins, when cholesterol and protein combine they form a lipoprotein. There are two main forms of lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is recognised to be a harmful from of cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is recognised as a helpful form of cholesterol.
Being overweight and obese increases the risk of coronary artery disease. Being overweight or obese also denotes an increased likelihood of hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, and diabetes mellitus. By reducing your weight, you will live a longer, happier and healthier life along with your heart. The assessment of obesity is made using the body mass index (BMI) which takes into account the relationship between height and weight
BMI = weight (kg) ¸ height 2 (m)
In England 32% of women are overweight with a BMI between 25 and 30kg/m 2 . Obesity is taken as a BMI greater than 30kg/m 2 .
< 18.5 - underweight
18.5 to 24.9 -
25 - 29.9 - overweight
30 - 34.9 -
grade 1 obesity
35 - 39.9 -
grade 2 obesity
> 40 -
grade 3 (morbid obesity)
Diabetes significantly increases an individual's risk of developing coronary artery disease. It is estimated that about 3% of the adult population have been diagnosed with diabetes and this number is increasing. Diabetes associated with other risk factors including raised blood cholesterol, raised blood pressure, obesity and smoking will increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Patients with new onset of type 1 diabetes can have the symptoms of polyuria and polydypsea (increased urine output and increased thirst) combined with significant weight loss. Those with type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms at all for years, presenting with the sequelae of diabetes later on. This may include impaired vision, foot numbness, kidney damage or heart disease. Tests for diabetes are simple and available at most GP surgeries.