Women's Heart Disease Risk
Information concerning the medical community’s underestimation of heart disease risk in women has recently emerged. As a result, new tools to assess women’s heart disease risks have emerged. As heart disease is the number one killer of women (1 in 3 women will die of heart disease), we feel compelled to get this information to you in a timely manner.
The February 19, 2007 issue of the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, updated guidelines for assessing women’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), creating only 3 categories of risk—High Risk, At Risk, and Optimal Risk—to better understand the significance of even just one cardiac risk factor. "The panel acknowledged that nearly all women are at risk for CVD, which underscores the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle".
Among the important recommended changes for women are: 1) 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity (i.e., brisk walking) most or all days; 60-90 minutes daily to reduce weight or sustain weight loss; 2) more aggressive aspirin therapy recommendations for stroke prevention; 3) two servings a week of ‘oily fish’ and more specific guidelines to increase intake of omega-3 if at risk; and 4) antioxidant supplements are not useful/or may be harmful. The full text can be viewed by clicking here.
Additionally, an article from Journal of the American Medical Association 2007; 297: 611-619 reported on a new useful tool for assessing the risk of CVD in women, using some simple risk factors. Evaluation of these factors proved highly accurate and reliable in predicting a woman’s risk. The factors are:
- Systolic blood pressure
- Hemoglobin A1C (for patients with diabetes)
- Current smoking
- Total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein
- Parental MI history at <60 years of age
We strongly encourage our female EHS clients to review these new guidelines and to assess your own risks. A physical exam this year would be a perfect opportunity to discuss your CVD risks and review other preventive guidelines.
Yours in health,