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Paying Close Attention to Heart Disease in Women

What should our focus be as women: grandmothers, mothers, wives, careerwomen, businesswomen, daughters, graduate students, college students. Yes, all of these women--different ages, stages in life, roles to fulfill, duties to perform--- have some things in common. All may be at risk for heart disease, and all may not be aware of their personal risk.

As the school year, academic year, and autumn activities get back into full swing, we need to remember to focus on the basics. The factors that contribute to the risk for and development of cardiovascular disease also form the basis of preventative strategies. These strategies have been developed over decades of research and experience in the treatment and prevention of 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. The atherosclerotic process can often be slowed, or even reversed; thus avoiding the sequelae of heart attack and stoke.

As women, why do we care about all 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.

So, as a review, the major risk factors for the development of heart disease in women are as follows: tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, family history of cardiovascular disease (especially heart attacks), sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and post-menopausal status.

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!  Begin by reviewing your family history, getting your blood pressure checked, discussing with your health care provider whether it's time for a cholesterol check as well as any exertional symptoms, especially if the symptoms are new or increasing in severity.

Heart disease can be fatal at the worst and produce disabling symptoms at the least if it progresses. We as 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 continue to lead healthy, active, productive, and caring lives.


CHI Health Women's Health Team
CHI Health Women's Health Team

These blogs written by the CHI Health Women's Health Team.

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