Heart disease is a condition often mistaken for being a man’s disease. The truth is, women can and do suffer from heart disease. It is the leading cause of death among American women. It can also cause severe disability.
The main cause of heart disease is the narrowing of arteries in the circulatory system. These arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart and body. The blockage of the coronary arteries, or those with a direct connection to the heart, is a major reason people have heart attacks. The National Institutes of Health say that two-thirds of women who have had a heart attack fail to make a full recovery afterward. This places importance on prevention.
Recently the American Heart Association released new heart disease prevention for women, taking into consideration “real world” factors rather than just doing research in a clinical setting. The guidelines also take into account areas that have not been considered in the past, such as how complications of pregnancy can increase the risk for heart disease.
American Heart Asociation recommendations:
Here are some of the updated recommendations made by the AHA for 2011.
• Stop smoking: Women should be advised not to smoke and to avoid environmental tobacco smoke.
• Increase physical activity: Women should accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both. Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups around 2 days a week should be performed.
• Make changes: Women can consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and fish, especially oily fish at least twice a week; limit intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, alcohol, sodium and sugar; and avoid trans-fatty acids.
• Lower blood pressure: An optimal blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm HG is advised.
• Lower cholesterol: LDL-C levels should be below 100 mg/DL. Lowering these levels with therapy or medication may be necessary.
The American Heart Association recognizes that women of different races and ethnicities may have different risk factors for heart disease. Talking with a doctor can help women develop a program catered to their needs. Visit www.heart.org to learn more.