When it comes to heart disease, the #1 killer of women in America, we can all learn something from Utah. Women here have the lowest rate of heart disease and high blood pressure in the country. And they’re second only to Minnesota for the lowest rate of high cholesterol among women. Colorado women are also taking care of their tickers, ranking among the top five healthiest states in all three categories.
For some Southern states, it’s a completely different story. Women in West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t faring well when it comes to heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They are in the bottom five—as in among the five least heart healthy states for women. Mississippi women have the highest high cholesterol and blood pressure in the country. Louisiana women also need to take control of their heart health. They are among the states with the highest rates of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Why this is is so critically important? High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure is considered a “silent killer” because it has no symptoms yet can damage your arteries and lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, vision and memory, fluid in the lungs, angina or peripheral artery disease. And when plaque builds up in your arteries, the resulting heart disease puts you at increased risk of a heart attack. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity and being overweight all increase a woman’s heart disease risk.
Another scary fact: Heart disease is deadlier than all forms of cancer, says The American Heart Association.
Here’s how the states rank when it comes to the percentage of women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Remember, #1 is the healthiest state, while #50 is the least healthy.
High Blood Pressure
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.