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Heart Health for Women

Approximately one in three adult women has some type of disease of the heart or blood vessels. The American Heart Association estimates that more women die of cardiovascular disease than the next five causes of death combined! Close to 500,000 women die each year from this potentially deadly disease.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was a well-respected study of thousands of women. It showed that only 64% of the participants who had a test result showing high cholesterol, or were currently on a cholesterol-lowering medication, were informed by a health care professional that they had a high cholesterol level despite strong evidence that high cholesterol is a strong risk factor for heart attack.

In addition, the National Cholesterol Education Program – Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP-ATP) III report demonstrated that fewer than half of the patients at highest risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) – also referred to as coronary artery disease, or CAD – are receiving appropriate treatment with medication that has been shown to not only lower high cholesterol level, but also has been documented to decrease recurrent heart attack risk in many.

In addition to lowering a high cholesterol level, other interventions can drastically reduce one’s risk of heart attack.

*If you smoke, stop. Hundreds of thousands of deaths in America are directly related to cigarette smoking. Lung cancer is not the most common potentially fatal disease caused by smoking. Heart attack is the most lethal complication of cigarette smoking. Why make tobacco companies rich while your health suffers? Get help if you need it, but STOP THE MADNESS!

*Exercise regularly. Of course, before starting any new and strenuous exercise program check with your doctor. Exercising 30 or more minutes at a moderately intense level (such as brisk walking) most days of the week can go a long way at not only reducing your risk for heart attack, it can improve your overall health as well.

*Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart attack as well as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, all of which directly increase the of heart disease. You may never be a size 4, but do your very best to eat a healthy diet and exercise as much as is safe and feasible for you.

*Eat fish regularly. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice each week. Good choices include albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, and lake trout.

*Maintain a healthy blood pressure. Exercise and a sensible diet can go a long way to prevent heart disease. If your doctor prescribed medication for your blood pressure, take it! Even if you feel great, take it! They don’t call hypertension the silent killer for nothing.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Maria Hester, M.D.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Maria Hester, M.D.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD for details.

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