Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Heart Disease in Women- New AHA Guidelines

The American Heart Association has recently published an update to their Guidelines for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women, so I thought I would highlight a few issues that may surprise you. Did you know that women are more likely to have a stroke than a heart attack? My patients with risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol worry far more about having a heart attack than having a stroke, yet at every age, women truly are more likely to suffer a stroke. (The opposite is true for men.) Sadly, in the United States, one woman dies every minute from cardiovascular disease.

The numbers of young women (aged 35-54) dying from cardiovascular disease is rising, paralleling the rise in obesity in our country. Now 2 of 3 women over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. This is why I spend so much time counseling patients and blogging and talking about weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes!

Women who had any pregnancy related complications such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia or gestional diabetes are now known to have higher risk of future cardiovascular events- possibly doubling their risk- despite blood pressures and sugars returning to normal after childbirth. We need to treat these women more aggressively to reduce their risk factors both with behavior modification and with medications.

BOTTOM LINE: Women, recognize that YOU are at risk for strokes and heart attacks as much, if not more than the men you are worrying about! Schedule a check up with your family doctor today.

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