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Health News

Heart Disease is a Woman's Greatest Health Threat

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Unfortunately, the majority of women still are not aware of this fact. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the statistics are scary:

  • One in four women in the U.S. dies of heart disease;
  • One in eight women ages 45 to 64 has some form of heart disease, while one in four over age 65 does;
  • 23 percent of women will die within one year following a heart attack;
  • Roughly 46 percent of women will be disabled with heart failure in six years after a heart attack;
  • Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery.

"Heart disease is a lifelong condition," explains Gohar Saeed, MD, FACC, FSCAI, cardiologist and medical director of Houston Healthcare's Houston Heart Institute. "The condition of your blood vessels will continue to deteriorate unless you make changes in your daily habits today."

Some risk factors of heart disease, such as age and family history, cannot be controlled. Research shows at least 33 percent of women ages 40 to 60 have one risk factor, such as weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure, they can control; another 31 percent have two risk factors, and 17 percent have three or more. For African American and Hispanic women, the numbers are even higher. More than 85 percent of African American women and roughly 78 percent of Hispanic women ages 40 to 60 are overweight or obese; 52 percent of African American women have high blood pressure; and 14 percent of African American women and 10 percent of Hispanic women have diabetes.

"Having just one controllable risk factor doubles a woman's chance of developing heart disease," continues Dr. Saeed. "To protect your heart, you must make changes that address each risk factor you have. Every woman needs to take the threat of heart disease seriously and take action now to reduce her risk."

According to the NHLBI, women can lower their risk for heart disease by as much as 82 percent simply by leading a healthy lifestyle and controlling risk factors such as:

  • Smoking: Women who smoke are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmoking women.
  • High Blood Pressure: New research shows that at least 65 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure caused by family history, being overweight, and eating a diet high in salt and sodium. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men, with African American women more likely to develop it at an earlier age. Often called the "silent killer" because it does not cause any symptoms, blood pressure is considered high when the top number is 140 or higher and the bottom number is 90 or higher.
  • High Blood Cholesterol: The higher a woman's blood cholesterol, the greater her risk for developing heart disease and having a heart attack. A woman's blood cholesterol is considered high if her total number is 240 or higher, and she has an LDL, or "bad" cholesterol level, of 160 or higher. An HDL, or "good" cholesterol level, lower than 40 is another major risk factor for a woman and heart disease.
  • Overweight and Obesity: Roughly 62 percent of American women over age 20 are overweight, with 33 percent being obese. Just being overweight is enough to make a woman more likely to develop heart disease, and the heavier a woman is, the higher her risk. A woman is overweight and/or obese if she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater and a waist circumference of 35 inches or more.
  • Lack of Exercise: Being inactive raises a woman's risk of developing heart disease even if she has no other risk factors. Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of moderate activity on most, preferably all, days of the week helps to protect a woman's overall health, not to mention reduce her risk of heart disease.
  • Diabetes: Women with diabetes have an especially high risk of dying from heart disease and stroke. The risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common, increases after age 45, especially if a person is overweight.

"Ladies, you must pay attention to heart disease now to prevent permanent damage to your heart," says Dr. Saeed. "The power to prevent heart disease is in your hands. Make time to take care of yourself because you are worth it!"

Houston Healthcare's Houston Heart Institute: Advancing Heart Care in Houston County

Located on the campus of Houston Medical Center, the Houston Heart Institute offers inpatient and outpatient services dedicated to the detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In addition to treating STEMI heart attacks, Houston Heart Institute provides a wide range of emergency cardiac services. Inpatient cardiac procedures, such as coronary stents and angioplasty, are performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Houston Heart Institute. Outpatinet cardiac services, such as EKG testing and holter monitoring, are performed in the Cardiology department of Houston Medical Center.

Houston Medical Center
1601 Watson Boulevard
Warner Robins, Georgia 31093
Telephone: (478) 922-4281

 

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