Women's Heart Health: Know Your Risks

Questions to ask your doctor, risk factors and a risk assessment tool.

ByABC News
January 31, 2011, 2:50 PM

2/1/2011 — -- When it comes to heart health, many women are confused about their risk factors. What's the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? What are the normal ranges for my test results? What about blood sugar and diabetes? What changes can I make to my diet to improve my heart health?

If you want to learn more about heart health and your individual risk factors, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says there are important questions to ask your doctor, risk factors you should be aware of and things you can do to lower them.

1. What is my risk for heart disease?

2. What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what do I need to do about it?

3. What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, LDL or "bad" cholesterol, HDL or "good" cholesterol, and triglycerides.) What do they mean for me, and what do I need to do about them?

4. What is my "body mass index" and waist measurement? Do they indicate that I need to lose weight for my health?

5. What is my blood sugar level, and does it mean I'm at risk for diabetes?

6. What other screening tests for heart disease do I need? How often should I return for checkups for my heart health?

7. What can you do to help me quit smoking?

8. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?

9. What is a heart-healthy eating plan for me? Should I see a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist to learn more about healthy eating?

10. How can I tell if I'm having a heart attack?

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of tests you can ask your doctor about.

Know Your Numbers: What are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

There are important risk factors for heart disease that you should be aware of, according to the NHLBI. Those include:

CLICK HERE for heart-healthy recipes.

CLICK HERE to download a wallet card that you can take to your doctor that includes questions to ask and important information about all your heart health numbers and risk factors.

CLICK HERE for more on risk factors.

CLICK HERE for a risk assessment tool to estimate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack:

CLICK HERE to visit the Heart Truth Web site for much more the national awareness campaign for women about heart disease, and to learn about National Wear Red day on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010.