Heart disease awareness critical among young women

Despite increased awareness in recent years, 80 percent of middle-aged women and 60 percent of younger women have at least one risk factor for heart disease, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute announced this week. NHLBI is launching The Heart Truth, an awareness campaign targeted at women during February, which is designated as American Heart Month.

Heart disease deaths among women have declined in recent years, but the death rate increases threefold between ages 30 and 40, leading NHLBI to stress the importance of heart health among women in their 20s and 30s.

Some common risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes and smoking. These risk factors are subject to a "multiplier effect," meaning one risk factor doubles the odds of developing heart disease, two risk factors increase the risk fourfold, and three or more risk factors increase risk tenfold.

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