Heart Disease in Women

What You Don’t Know About Heart Health Can Hurt You

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

If you are a young mom, heart disease is the furthest thing from your mind. You have your kids and your husband to look after. You have work. You don’t have time to look after yourself. cardiovascular-diseaseBesides, you may think that heart disease in women doesn’t really apply to you. Perhaps it’s time to review some of your assumptions.

Heart Disease Is For Men – Wrong

The misconception that heart disease is primarily a man’s concern arises because estrogen helps protect women from heart disease prior to menopause. However, after menopause women’s heart attack rates exceed men’s. Overall, women account for over half of all heart attack deaths in this country, and if a woman has a heart attack before age 50, it is twice as likely to be fatal for her than for a man.

Women Should Be More Concerned About Breast Cancer Than About Heart Disease – Wrong

graph-heart-diseaseWhile I would never advise a woman not to take precautions to avoid breast cancer, you should know that your lifetime risk of developing heart disease is 6-fold greater than your lifetime risk of developing cancer. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 40 years old. For 25% of heart attack victims their first symptom is sudden death! And many other will never experience the same quality of life again.

 

Women Don’t Need To Worry About Heart Disease Until After Menopause – Wrong

It is true the likelihood of having a heart attack increases significantly after menopause. That is because menopause dramatically increases a number of risk factors associated with heart disease such as increases in LDL cholesterol, blood clot formation, blood pressure, and inflammation. However, within 10 years after the onset of perimenopause (usually around age 45) your risk of a heart attack will skyrocket past that of a man of the same age. That means in those 10 years all of the not-so-good things you have been doing to your heart since age 20 catch up with you!

What Can You Do?

Don’t wait until after menopause. Start your heart health program today. Here is what the experts recommend.

  • Lose weight and/or maintain ideal body weight. Overweight and obesity dramatically increase all of the major risk factors for heart disease – LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.
  • Exercise for more than 30 minutes – more than 3 times/week. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease by 30-40%.
  • Follow a diet low in saturated fat and trans-fat (substitute monounsaturated fats like olive oil and omega-3 fats); low in sugars and artificial sweeteners; and high in fiber, whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and fish.
  • Work with your physician to control predisposing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
  • All these help to reduce heart disease in women

More Resources

For more information on heart health for women visit http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/women-heart-disease, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007188.htm, and https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/know-your-risk/factors-that-increase-your-risk/

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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