Coronary Heart Disease in Women
Did you know coronary heart disease, not cancer, is by far the leading cause of death among women in the United States? More women die from heart disease than the next 16 causes combined. Although so many women are at risk, especially women after menopause, few recognize the risk factors and take steps to reduce them. If left untreated, coronary heart disease leads to heart attack and heart failure.
There are many things that women can do to reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease:
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a weight as close to their ideal body weight as possible
- Exercise (the American Heart Association recommends 20 minutes of exercise three times a week with warm up and cool down periods)
- Seek screening and treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
Upon reaching menopause, a woman's risk for heart disease equals if not surpasses a man's risk. Cholesterol levels that were kept in check by estrogen production may surge upward. Hormone replacement therapy may reduce the sudden increased risk, but may at the same time promote an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
Every woman should talk with her doctor about risks for heart disease. Taking preventive measures can go a long way in reducing the chances of a heart attack.