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Heart & Vascular Institute

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Women’s Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Dr. Pamela Ouyang sits behind a desk with a patient and points to a computer model of a heart Dr. Pamela Ouyang discusses a patient's risk factors.

Most people are familiar with the risk factors for heart disease—such as age, family or personal history, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity. 

But many don’t know that the following risk factors may play a larger role in the development of heart disease in women: 

  • Smoking
  • Mental stress and depression – women are more prone to depression, which has been linked to heart disease
  • Metabolic syndrome – this combination of risk factors (obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and triglycerides and low HDL-cholesterol) increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus – inflammation can cause fluid to collect around the heart and result in greater progress of coronary disease; women are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus than men
  • Complications and disorders associated with pregnancy – including diabetes and hypertension (pre-eclampsia)
  • C-reactive protein – a signal of inflammation that might indicate cardiovascular risk
  • Diabetes- women with diabetes have coronary artery disease at a much earlier age than women without diabetes

Since heart disease and its symptoms differ in men and women, our center offers individualized treatment plans and care specifically for a woman’s needs.

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