World Heart Day 2012: Women and Children at Risk
September 29 is World Heart Day. The World Heart Federation created World Heart Day in 2000 to remind people of the enormity of the problem and of ways to prevent cardiovascular disease related deaths. In 2012, campaign activities focus on taking action to prevent heart disease in women and children.
The term "heart disease" refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary heart disease (CHD), which can cause heart attack, chest pain, heart failure, and arrhythmias.
Who's at Risk?
Even though it is often considered a "man's disease," heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States, accounting for 25% of all female deaths each year. Even women who have no symptoms may be at risk for heart disease. Almost two-thirds of the women who die suddenly of CHD had no previous symptoms.1
Standard tests for CHD are not designed to detect another type of heart disease, coronary microvascular disease (MVD). MVD mainly affects women and is not as well understood as CHD. Standard test results for women may show that they are at low risk for heart disease, even if they have coronary MVD. Research is ongoing to learn more about coronary MVD and its causes. For more information about MVD can be found at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cmd/.
The risk for heart disease can begin in childhood. An unhealthy diet and sedentary behaviors early in life can lead to heart disease in adulthood, even in children with no family history of heart disease.
CDC estimates that more than one-third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Children and adolescents who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults.2–5 This means they are at higher risk for adult health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6
Higher sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure in children and adolescents. High blood pressure is associated with early development of cardiovascular disease and risk for premature death. A recent study found that the impact of high sodium consumption—and corresponding risk for high blood pressure—is even greater among young people who are overweight or obese.7
What You Need to Know
Early and ongoing heart disease prevention is important. At least 80% of deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided, according to the World Heart Federation. Many CHD risk factors are preventable and controllable, even if you or someone you love already has CHD. Common risk factors that increase the chances of having a heart attack include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Smoking and secondhand smoke
- Previous heart attack or stroke.
Other risk factors include:
- Overweight and obesity.
- Poor diet, including foods high in salt, fat, cholesterol, and sugar and low in fruits and vegetables.
- Physical inactivity.
Simple lifestyle changes and medications can help lower the risk for heart disease, such as:
- Remember the ABCS of heart health:
- Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it.
- Blood pressure control.
- Cholesterol management.
- Smoking cessation.
- Talk to your health care professional about your risks and strategies for prevention.
- Eat healthy for your heart, including lots of fruits and vegetables and foods low in salt, cholesterol, and sugar.
- Get moving with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.
- Get help to quit smoking—and if you don't smoke, don't start.
You can learn more about heart disease and stroke prevention with the Million Hearts™ initiative, which aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
World Heart Day Twitter Chat
Have questions about heart disease in women? Join The Heart Truth®, Million Hearts™, the American College of Cardiology, and Healthfinder.gov for a World Heart Day Twitter live chat on Friday, September 28, at 1 p.m. ET. Learn more about the history of women's heart disease research and ask experts your questions. Go to www.twitter.com and search for #HeartChat to join the chat.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
- Meet Superheart, who is educating children 7–10 years about heart-healthy behavior.
- Calculate your 10-year risk for heart attack.
- Find out more about women and heart disease prevention.
- Visit CDC's heart disease Web site.
- Visit the World Heart Federation's Web site, including a new infographic on heart disease prevention.
- Visit the World Health Organization's Web site.
For additional information please contact the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CDC funds heart disease and stroke prevention programs in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Read additional information about these programs.
- Lloyd-Jones D, Adams RJ, Brown TM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2010 update. A report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation. 2010;121:e1–170.
- Guo SS, Chumlea WC. Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70:S145–8.
- Freedman DS, Kettel L, Serdula MK, Dietz WH, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS. The relation of childhood BMI to adult adiposity: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics. 2005;115:22–7.
- Freedman D, Wang J, Thornton JC, et al. Classification of body fatness by body mass index-for-age categories among children. Arch Pediatr Adoles Med. 2009;163:801–11.
- Freedman DS, Khan LK, Dietz WH, Srinivasan SA, Berenson GS. Relationship of childhood obesity to coronary heart disease risk factors in adulthood: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics. 2001;108:712–8.
- Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation [PDF - 725KB]. Rockville, MD, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
- CDC. Sodium intake and blood pressure among U.S. children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2012;130:611–9.
Get email updates
To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO