Women: Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

rundlettWomen at all ages and stages in life (grandmothers, mothers, wives, career women, business women, daughters, graduate students and college students) have things in common. All may be at risk for heart disease, and all may not be aware of their personal risk.

We at Nebraska Heart Women’s Heart Program would like to focus on the basics and remind everyone that heart disease is preventable. The risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease also form the basis of preventive strategies, which were developed through decades of research and experience in treating and preventing coronary artery disease.

Coronary artery disease (CAD), also called “hardening of the arteries,” can result in disabling symptoms, heart attack or even death. CAD typically develops over time, often silently; therein lies both the hazard and the hope of prevention. Fortunately, the atherosclerotic process can often be slowed, or even reversed; thus avoiding a heart attack or stroke.

As women, why do we care about all of this? Heart disease is the number one cause of sickness, disability and death in American women. One in three women will show evidence of cardiovascular disease in her lifetime. Increased risk often translates into earlier manifestation of heart disease, i.e. at a younger age. The earlier prevention begins in a woman’s life, the less likely that serious heart disease will develop or progress.

The major risk factors for heart disease in women are:
• Tobacco use
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• High cholesterol
• Family history of cardiovascular disease (especially heart attacks)
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Obesity
• Post-menopausal status

Each of these risk factors will be reviewed individually and extensively in upcoming Nebraska Heart Women’s Heart blog posts, so stay tuned!

Prevention is Key
Remember, the best thing that we as women (natural caretakers) can do for our loved ones is to take care of ourselves. Therefore, know your own risk! The Nebraska Heart Women’s Heart Program is here to provide risk assessments and personalized prevention strategies for your busy lives. Begin by reviewing your family history, getting your blood pressure checked and talking with your health care provider about a cholesterol check discuss any exertional symptoms—especially if the symptoms are new or increasing in severity.

As it progresses, heart disease can produce disabling symptoms and can be fatal. Women are not immune! In fact, our risk increases as we get older and enter menopause. Prevention works and can reduce our risk—enabling us to lead healthy, active, productive and caring lives.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY TODAY! The Nebraska Heart Women’s Heart Program is here to walk along with you, starting with assessing your cardiovascular health through risk reduction strategies and disease treatment. Please give us a call at (402) 328-3731 or send us a message to get started!

Rebecca Rundlett, M.D., FACC.
Nebraska Heart Women’s Heart Program Medical Director

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