Did you know heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States? To protect your heart health, it's important to understand heart disease risk factors, some of which play a bigger role among women than they do in men.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women
The following established risk factors for heart disease affect women at about the same rate as men:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- physical inactivity
- obesity or overweight
- family history
- age greater than 55 for women (45 for men)
These factors affect both men and women, but doctors are finding that they may have a bigger impact on women:
- cigarette smoking
- elevated c-reactive protein (CRP)
- elevated homocysteine
- chronic kidney disorder
- metabolic syndrome
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
Women's risk for heart disease also tends to increases if they:
- miss regular check-ups with their physician
- ignore their medical needs while caring for others
- continue to think of heart disease as a "man's disease"
Heart disease isn't something women should ignore. Understanding your heart health can help you lower your risk and keep your heart healthy for years to come.
How to Prevent Heart Disease in Women
Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are preventable with the right steps. Attending a Heart Health Screening yearly can provide important information about your blood pressure and blood sugar related to diabetes, two risk factors for heart disease. To learn more about blood sugar, register for one of our Diabetes classes.
Even though your age and family history are two risk factors that you cannot change, below is a list and brief description of the ones you can modify to improve your heart profile.
- High Blood Pressure - Get regular exercise. Eat a diet low in sodium, low in fat and high in fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans).
- Lipids (Cholesterol and Triglycerides) - Eat a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber.
- Diabetes - Regular aerobic exercise may prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes. Eat at least three meals a day consisting of low fat and high fiber.
- Stress - Incorporate stress management techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation or visualization into your daily routine.
- Physical Inactivity - If you are inactive, make a commitment to begin some physical activity everyday to establish a routine. Find activities you enjoy and have variety in your program.
- Overweight - Try to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes or more. You can divide it up if necessary. Include aerobic and resistance exercises. Eat a diet low in fat and high in fiber. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full.
- C-Reactive Protein - This is a measure of inflammation in your arteries. Modifying your other risk factors will lower it.
- Homocysteine - Eat whole grains and beans daily. Take a multivitamin that includes 400 mcg folic acid, 2.4 mcg B-12 and 1.7 mg B-6
Treatment Options for Women with Heart Disease
If you're currently living with heart disease or have had a heart attack in the past, it's important to have the best quality care possible going forward. Beaumont offers several cardiac programs designed to treat and manage your condition.
Cardiac rehabilitation is designed for people who have experienced a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, angioplasty, stent, bypass surgery, chronic angina or chest discomfort, a heart valve procedure or a heart/lung transplant.
Cardiothoracic surgery is the surgical treatment of diseases affecting the organs inside the thoracic cavity (chest), such heart disease and lung disease.
Congestive Heart Failure Clinic - Beaumont, Dearborn offers the region's most comprehensive Heart Failure Clinic, designed specifically for the treatment of patients with chronic heart failure. Our specialized approach allows patients with heart failure to have better quality of life and less-frequent hospital admissions.
Ministrelli Women's Heart Center - Beaumont, Royal Oak is dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of heart disease in women. The staff is specifically trained and dedicated to women's heart disease issues.