Tips to prevent heart disease in women

Dr Karla Kurrelmeyer at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston recommends a few heart healthy tips for women to prevent and manage heart disease.

· The most important thing is to stay to as physically fit as possible. Every woman should work exercise into her lifestyle, find something she can enjoy doing, and do it regularly and often.
· In addition to exercising, every woman should follow the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fish and fresh vegetables, and low in processed carbohydrates.
· Get your cholesterol checked, especially if there is a family history of heart disease or stroke. At age 20 women are seeing their OB/gynecologists who perform blood pressure checks, fasting lipid panels and fasting sugars. Even young women should pay attention to these numbers and be on alert if any are out of range. If these numbers are abnormal, they indicate that you are at risk for developing heart problems in the future. They are early warning signals, which if corrected and treated can help prevent the development of heart disease. Often these numbers can be corrected with lifestyle changes including improving your diet, exercising and losing weight. If these measures fail, they can be easily corrected with medication.
· An initial, thorough heart check at age 40 is recommended if a woman has risk factors or a family history of heart disease, or at age 50 if there’s no family history or risk factors. In any other case, heart scans are not required until age 55.
· Women should also be aware of stroke. Stroke prevention is very similar to heart disease prevention. Blood thinners and cholesterol drugs called statins have been shown to help prevent heart attacks and the need for bypass and angioplasty. These same drugs are also proven to reduce the incidence of stroke.
· Women are twice more likely to have a stroke than men. On the other hand, men have more heart attacks than women. “We are not sure why, but in the end, it’s likely all the same disease process and we treat them similarly. Stroke can have a devastating impact, not only on the survivor, but on everyone who cares for her. It’s another dramatic reason to take care of yourself, says Dr Karla Kurrelmeyer.
“At the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Houston, we’ve launched several clinical trials designed to research new treatments and diagnostic tools in heart care for women. The data in one study suggests that if you can perform an exercise treadmill stress test, the likelihood of having a cardiac event in the next five years is really quite low.

“The good news is that heart disease can be prevented. You have the tools at your disposal. Take advantage of them,” Kurrelmeyer added.

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