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The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women

Other Factors That Affect Heart Disease

New Risk Factors?
We know that major risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking boost heart disease risk. Researchers are studying other factors that might contribute to heart disease, including inflammation of the artery walls. Several emerging risk factors have been identified. We don't know for sure yet whether they lead to heart disease or whether treating them will reduce risk. Although these possible risk factors are not recommended for routine testing, ask your doctor whether you should be tested for any of them.

C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP may indicate inflammation in the artery walls. A simple blood test can measure the levels of CRP in the blood. In many cases, a high CRP level is a sign of metabolic syndrome. Treatment of the syndrome with lifestyle changes—weight loss and regular physical activity—can often lower CRP.

Homocysteine. High blood levels of this amino acid may increase risk for heart disease. For women, homocysteine levels tend to rise after menopause. It may be possible to lower elevated levels of homocysteine by getting plenty of folic acid and vitaminsB6 and B12 in your diet.

Lp(a) protein. This lipoprotein may make it easier for blood clots to form. Niacin, a cholesterol-lowering drug, may help to lower Lp(a) protein levels.

Table of Contents Next: Taking Control

Last Updated: February 29, 2012

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