Facts about Women's Heart Disease, Stroke Risk Factors

Article excerpt

High blood pressure is a cause of death more prevalent in women than men.

For Americans age 20 and older:

* 31.9 percent of white females have high blood pressure, compared with 32.5 percent of males.

* 46.6 percent of black females have high blood pressure, compared with 42.6 percent of males.

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

High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. More men than women have high blood pressure until age 55. From age 55 and older, the percentage of women with high blood pressure continues to increase.

Smoking is substantially higher among white youths age 18-24 from families with lower educational levels than it is among black and Mexican-American youths from families with similar educational 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:

* 20.4 percent of white females smoke, compared with 24.1 percent of males.

* 17.2 percent of black or African-American females smoke, compared with 23.9 percent of males.

* 10.9 percent of Hispanic or Latino females smoke, compared with 18.9 percent of males.

Cholesterol -- Beginning at age 45, a higher percentage of women than men have total blood cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or higher (levels between 200 and 239 mg/dL are considered borderline-high.)

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:

* 49.7 percent of white females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 49.9 percent of males.

* 42.1 percent of black or African-American females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 44.8 percent of males.

* 50 percent of Mexican-American females have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher, compared with 49.9 percent of males.

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. …