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Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredWhile heart disease has many of the same risk factors in men and women--high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity--there are a few that play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women than in men. These are metabolic syndrome, stress/depression, smoking, and low levels of estrogen after menopause. Specifically, the low levels of estrogen post menopause are a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels that cause female characteristic heart disease.Helpful? 15 people found this helpful.
We know that there are a number of cardiovascular risk factors that are unique to women, such as certain pregnancy complications that are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Women diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, for example, are 2-3 times more likely to have subsequent heart disease - years and even decades down the road - compared to women who don't have pre-eclampsia. Gestational diabetes, seen in 2-12% of pregnancies, is higher among minorities. See also: "Pregnancy Complications Strongly Linked to Heart Disease" - http://myheartsisters.org/2010/12/12/pre-eclampsia-link-heart-disease/
Taking oral contraceptives can increase the risk of both high blood pressure and blood clots, particularly for women who smoke, already have high blood pressure (especially if you are over the age of 35), have other risk factors for heart disease or stroke, or already have a blood clotting problem.
Depression is also a known risk factor for heart disease, and women in general are twice as likely to suffer depression compared to men.