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Women's Heart Disease Risk Quiz

A Healthy Hearts Guide  WHF red heart corporate logo ®

Are You at Risk for Heart Disease? Take this quiz to find out.

  • Over 60% of women believe their biggest health threat is breast cancer but heart disease kills 6 times as many women as breast cancer.
  • Some risk factors are different for women than for men.
  • Heart disease symptoms may be milder in women.
  • Heart attacks often strike without warning. If a woman does not realize heart disease is a health threat, she will not make heart healthy changes or respond to symptoms once they occur.

The way you live each day affects your heart. An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Making lifestyle changes now could save your life. Take this simple quiz to find out if you are at risk. Place a check mark in the box to the left of each risk factor that applies to you . Then, count up your total number of check marks (each check mark counts as one point).  

FAMILY HISTORY

Your father or brother under age 55 or your mother or sister under age 65 has had a heart attack, stroke, angioplasty or bypass surgery.

OLDER AGE

You are over 55 years old. (After age 65, the death rate increases sharply for women.)

SMOKING

Either you smoke or you are exposed to secondhand smoke every day.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Your blood pressure is over 135/85 mm Hg or you have been told that you have high blood pressure.

Optimal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Drug therapy is indicated when blood pressure is >140/90 mm Hg, or an even lower blood pressure in the setting of chronic kidney disease or diabetes (> 130/90 mm Hg). After age 45, 60% of Caucasian women and 79% of African-American women have high blood pressure.

PHYSICAL INACTIVITY

You do not exercise for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, like taking a brisk walk, on most days.

For weight control, women need to exercise with 60-90 minutes of a moderate-intensity activity most days. 70% of American women don't exercise regularly.

DIABETES

You have been told that you have diabetes or take medicine to help control your blood sugar. After age 45, diabetes affects many more women than men. If diabetic, aim to achieve an HbA1c < 7%.

BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS (LIPIDS)

Your HDL (High Density Lipo-protein or "good" cholesterol) is less than 50mg/dL. LDL Goals are dependent upon risk

The following levels of lipids and lipoproteins in women should be encouraged through lifestyle approaches: LDL-C<100mg/dL; HDL-C>50mg/dL; triglycerides <150mg/dL; and non-HDL-C (total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol) <130 mg/dL. If a woman is at high risk or has hypercholesterolemia, intake of saturated fat should be <7% and cholesterol intake <200 mg/d. For diabetic women, LDL<100. For vascular disease and very high risk women, LDL<70. HDL of 60 mg/dL is considered cardio-protective. You can raise your HDL by taking in 2-3T of olive oil daily, quitting smoking, getting regular aerobic exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

OVERWEIGHT

You are 20 pounds or more overweight. (More than 1/3 of American women are more than 20 pounds overweight.) Ask your health care professional if your Body Mass Index (BMI) places you at risk.Calculate Your BMI score.

METABOLIC SYNDROME

Having at least three of a cluster of symptoms that are listed below places you at risk
  • High blood sugar >100 mg/dL after fasting
  • High triglycerides - at least 150 mg/dL
  • Low HDL (<50 mg/dL in women)
  • Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher
  • Waist >35 inches. (Waist measurement of 35 inches or more or waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.80 is a predictor of high triglycerides and low HDL levels)

PREMATURE MENOPAUSE

Either natural or through surgery, early menopause - before the age of 40 - is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

BIRTH CONTROL PILLS. When combined with regular exposure to cigarette smoke,

taking birth control pills greatly increases risk of heart attack and stroke, especially after age 35.

STRESS

You have a high demand/low control job with sustained high levels of stress. Stress is a normal part of life. How you cope with stress can affect your heart.

UNHEALTHY DIET

A healthy diet consists of
  • eating fruits, vegetables and whole-grain high-fiber foods (aim for 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of whole fruit daily);
  • eating fish, especially oily fish*, at least twice a week;
  • limiting saturated fat to < 10% of energy, and if possible to <7%, cholesterol to <300 mg/dL;
  • limiting alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day;
  • limiting sodium intake to <2.3 g/d (approximately 1 tsp salt).
  • avoiding all trans-fatty acids (listed as "hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients section).
* Pregnant and lactating women should avoid eating fish potentially high in methylmercury Check EPA and USFDA websites for updates and advisories.

Your Total Number of Points =

Interpreting Your Score.

If you have 2 or more points, consult with your health care practitioner and ask for a complete risk assessment. Find out what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease.

TIP: Print out the completed form and take it with you to your doctor appointment.

Women's Heart Disease Risk Quiz is based on the February 2007 AHA Women and Heart Disease guidelines. Other risk factors can also contribute to heart disease, including but not limited to sleep disturbance - especially sleep apnea resulting in intermittant low levels of oxygen in the blood, an adverse reaction to a medicine, arrhythmia, inflammation, vessel spasm, increased platelet stickiness with increased clotting, and any other hemodynamic variable that contribute to lack of blood flow to the heart muscle.


Heart Health

Heart Attack Facts |  Heart Attack: An Action Plan for Women  |  Women’s Heart Risk Quiz |  What is a Heart Attack? |  Panic Attack or Heart Attack? -  Responding to Chest Pain | 

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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.