Topic of the Week
June 19th, 2017
Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women
The American Heart Association periodically updates its guidelines for the prevention for cardiovascular disease in women. The guidelines are really a look at long-term as well as short-term prevention. The leading cause of death in women is heart disease and stroke with heart disease accounting for approximately 30% of all deaths and stroke (a related cardiovascular disease) accounting for about 10%. This means that, in combination, these two diseases account for well over 1/3 of all non-accidental deaths (FYI—cancer is the #2 killer). But many women are confused about what methods will help to prevent heart disease. Let’s look at some guidelines.
One of the misunderstood preventative techniques for heart disease prevention is supplementation and medication. Many supplements, especially anti-oxidants, are a good way to keep the body healthy but AHA guidelines strongly suggest that some supplements (including folic acid) should NOT be the PRIMARY course of action in preventing heart disease. However, dietary supplements that do appear to be useful for women include EPA and DHA (the primary fatty acids in fish). Better yet, eating “fatty” fish such as salmon as a regular part of a balanced diet (i.e. once or twice per week) is always a good idea. As for medication, research has indicated that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is NOT recommended for heart disease prevention (but always see your doctor before beginning or ending HRT). Low dose aspirin for older women (65 and older), on the other hand, is now considered beneficial (again, see your doctor FIRST!).
Of course, the simplest and least expensive techniques for preventing cardiovascular disease is still, of course, an improved diet (less fat, more fresh fruits and vegetables and reduced caloric intake) and more regularly scheduled exercise (at least 60 minutes per day of some type of moderately challenging activity). Even short “bouts” of exercise (even 5 to 10 minutes) accomplished several times throughout the day will do the trick. Brisk walking, for example, is a good way to start a regular exercise program. The result of improved diet and increased exercise is a lower resting blood pressure and a lower blood lipid profile (less fat in the blood), both of which can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of heart attack and stroke.
Finally, smoking cessation is a MUST for those women that still smoke. Whether it’s will power, nicotine replacement or smoke cessation programs, there is no single “thing” that a woman can do that will reduce her chances of heart disease more quickly than quitting “the habit”. So, if you smoke, STOP! NOW! Being heart healthy is a matter of common sense and commitment to yourself and those that you love. The choices are yours to make.
I’m Dr. Paul Kennedy and that’s the “Be Fit, Stay Fit” Topic of the Week. Good luck with YOUR program. I KNOW you can do it!
Originally published on September 02, 2017 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau