Heart Disease Guide – Part 3

Heart Disease in Women: Women and Heart Disease

The risk of heart disease in women increases with age. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 40 years old, especially after menopause. Menopause is a normal stage in a woman’s life; it comprises any of the changes a woman experiences either before or after she stops menstruating. As menopause nears, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen (a female hormone), causing changes in the menstrual cycle and other physical changes. Every year, more than 500,000 U.S. women die of heart disease. This translates to approximately one death every minute.

Heart disease in women is preventable as per the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association. Reason to understand the cause of heart disease in women could not be stressed enough. Heart disease kills 1 in 3 American women, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 60% of U.S. women now know that heart disease is their No. 1 health threat.

Prevention is better than cure. Heart disease in women is preventable with a disease prevention strategy. The knowledge of heart disease occurs to a person when it is too late.

Here are some guide lines for a simple prevention plan for heart disease in women:

Women aged 20 and older should see a doctor to find out their heart disease risk.

Chnaces are that one in 10 women will learn that there is no real risk of heart disease. These women should continue their heart-healthy lifestyles.

Women who are at risk of heart disease, should think of preventing heart disease and stroke. These women must stop smoking, adopt a heart-healthy diet, get at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, and watch their weight. And under a medical supervision, some of these women may need blood pressure medications, cholesterol-lowering therapy, or regular aspirin.

Women who already have some existing condition making it more likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke, should additionaly to taking the measures advised above, go after some aggressive medical treatments or rehab.

Depression is very common in women with heart disease. All women with heart disease should be evaluated for depression.

Women should exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day, and for those women who want to lose weight, 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise is recommended.

The risk of heart disease in women is increased by activities such as, diabetes and obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and inactivity.

Heart disease in women though is on the increase, can be altered through some variations in life style. Clinical experience suggest the following general guidelines for preventing heart disease:

– Maintain blood pressure of less than 140/90 mmHg (120/80 is optimal)

– Maintain blood glucose of 80-120 mg/dL (less than 100 is optimal)

– Maintain total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL (and not less than 160) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) of less than 130 mg/dL (less than 100 is optimal)

– Exercise regularly (30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times weekly is optimal).

However, there are certain factors that cannot be influenced to prevent heart disease in women. Factors such as age, family history and menopause cannot be controlled or prevented.

But there are other factors that could be influenced, through exercising the right option. This could prevent death from heart disease in women. As indicated earlier, introducing some changes to our life style, and carrying a positive out look towards the meaning and purpose of life, women can fight this terrible disease and live more healthier and meaningful lives. Meditation, yoga, prayers and religous activities can have huge impacts on our life and provide the necessary inner strength to cope with the pain and pressure of heart disease.

Diabetes and high cholesterol, homocysteine, and blood pressure can be improved through diet, exercise, medication, and supplements. High C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory biomarker, may help to identify those who would benefit from anti-inflammatory intervention. Diet, lifestyle changes, positive adaptation to stress, and supplements can assist in weight loss and help decrease stress. Quitting smoking will also reduce risk of heart disease in women. The scientific data strongly suggest that modification of these multiple risk factors can help to lessen heart disease risk and thus total mortality in women.