Did you know that heart disease is  the number one killer for Australian women? In fact, women are 4 times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer.

What is your ‘absolute risk’?

Your ‘absolute risk’ of cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and blood vessel disease) can be estimated by looking at all your risk factors together. Your score indicates your chance of having a problem in the next 5 years. You can calculate your risk at www.cvdcheck.org.au.

The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable. You can reduce your risk by ­addressing these risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Depression and social isolation

Risk assessments should begin at age 45 or even earlier if you have a family history. Having a check-up with your GP is the first step.

The role of hormones

Women get heart disease later than men due to protection from the hormone oestrogen.

When women take oestrogen for menopause symptoms before age 60 it also appears to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it may increase the risk if started after age 60.

The contraceptive Pill is usually safe for healthy young women. However, smokers on the Pill have a greatly increased risk of heart disease.

For more information about heart disease in women speak to your GP. You can also go to the Heart Foundation’s Go Red for Women site at www.goredforwomen.org.au or ring the Heart Foundation’s Helpline on 1300 36 27 87.


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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