Preventing Heart Disease in Women
You can read about it, or hear about it on the news but you may not get the best advice for you when it comes to preventing heart disease unless you get personalized treatment from the right doctor.
“A lot of women in their 30s and 40s, the last thing they’re thinking about is heart disease, so they’re going to see their OB-Gyn and really not thinking about cardiovascular risk reduction,” says Dr. Leslie Cho.
The American Heart Association has updated its heart disease prevention guidelines for women.
Experts say doctors can best assess a woman’s personal risk factors like income and literacy levels, even mood disorders, which can keep women from taking medications or engaging in a heart healthy lifestyle.
“We know the good medicines people should be on, but we don’t really go to the next step which is why people aren’t taking some of these medicines,” says Dr. Cho.
The new guidelines list lupus and rheumatoid arthritis as heart disease risk factors, as well as a history of certain pregnancy complications.
Pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and even high blood pressure during pregnancy are now considered the heart risk equivalent to having failed a stress test.
Doctors must also consider a woman’s ethnic background.
“The number one cause of stroke for African Americans is high blood pressure, and not having your blood pressure controlled,” notes Dr. Cho.
Considering a woman dies of heart disease every minute in America, experts say we shouldn’t waste another minute before getting our heart risk factors under control.
Depression screening should also be part of the overall evaluation for heart risks.
According to the guidelines depression may impact whether women adhere to heart healthy lifestyles and medication.