MUSC Heart & Vascular Center

Heart and Vascular Center

Women's Risk Factors for Heart Disease & Stroke

 High Blood Pressure
 Smoking
 Cholesterol
 Physical Inactivity
 Obesity
 Diabetes

High Blood Pressure Statistics
High blood pressure is a cause of death more prevalent in women than men.  High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke.

Statistics for Americans Age 20 & Older
 31 percent of non-Hispanic white females have high blood pressure, compared with 30.6 percent of males.

 45.4 percent of non-Hispanic black females have high blood pressure, compared with 41.8 percent of males.

 28.7 percent of Mexican-American females have high blood pressure, compared with 27.8 percent of males.

 More men than women have high blood pressure until age 45. From age 45 to 54, the percentage of women with high blood pressure becomes slightly higher than males.

 The prevalence of high blood pressure is two to three times more common in women taking oral contraceptives, especially those who are older and obese, than in women not taking them.

Smoking Statistics
 A total of 18.5 percent of American women age 18 and older smoke, putting them at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.

 Smoking is substantially higher among white youths age 18–24 from families with lower education levels than it is among black and Mexican-American youths from families with similar education levels.  Sixty-one percent of young white women from this group are current smokers compared to 35 percent of minority youth.

 For Americans age 18 and older:
  black dotted arrow 20.4  percent of non-Hispanic white females smoke, compared with 24.1 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 17.2 percent of non-Hispanic black females smoke, compared with 23.9 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 10.9 percent of Hispanic smoke, compared with 18.9 percent of males.

Cholesterol Statistics
 The risk of heart attack in both men and women is much higher when they have lower HDL cholesterol levels (below 40 mg/dL) and higher total cholesterol levels (above 240 mg/dL) than when they have one of these two risk factors.

 For Americans age 20 and older:
  black dotted arrow 52.1 percent of non-Hispanic white females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 48.9 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 46.8 percent of non-Hispanic black n females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 41.6 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 44.8 percent of Mexican-American females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 51.9 percent of males.

Physical Inactivity Statistics
 Physical inactivity is more prevalent among women than men, among blacks and Hispanics than whites, among older than younger adults and among the less affluent than the more affluent.

 A study of over 72,000 female nurses indicates that moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of stroke when compared with physical activity done at an average or casual pace.

 For Americans age 18 and older:
  black dotted arrow 21.6 percent of non-Hispanic white females are physically inactive, compared with 18.4percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 33.9 percent of non-Hispanic black females are physically inactive, compared with 27.0 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 39.6 percent of Hispanic females are physically inactive, compared with 32.5 percent of males.

Obesity Statistics
 For Americans age 20 and older:
   black dotted arrow 57.2 percent of non-Hispanic white females are overweight or obese, compared with 69.4 percent of males.
   black dotted arrow 77.2 percent of non-Hispanic black females are overweight or obese, compared with 62.9 percent of males.
   black dotted arrow 71.7 percent of Mexican-American females are overweight or obese, compared with 73.1 percent of males.
   black dotted arrow 38.9 percent of Hispanics or Latinos age 18 and older are overweight and 24.7 are obese.

Diabetes Statistics
 At least 65 percent of people with diabetes will die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

 Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about two to four times higher than those for adults without diabetes.

 The risk for stroke is two to four times higher as well.

 The age-adjusted prevalence of major cardiovascular disease for women with diabetes is twice that for women without diabetes.

 The age-adjusted major cardiovascular disease hospital discharge rate for women with diabetes is almost four times the rate for women without diabetes. 

 For Americans age 20 and older:
  black dotted arrow 4.7 percent of non-Hispanic white females have physician-diagnosed diabetes, compared with 6.2 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 12.6 percent of non-Hispanic black females have physician-diagnosed diabetes, compared with 10.3 percent of males.
  black dotted arrow 11.3 percent of Mexican-American females have physician-diagnosed diabetes, compared with 10.4 percent of males.

Sources: American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2006 Update
American Heart Association Biostatistical Fact Sheet, “Women and Cardiovascular Disease”
Footnote:  Data is for non-Hispanic white and black males and females.

 
 
 

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