Do you know the new heart health guidelines for women?

18 Feb

Consumer Reports Health has released an alert about new guidelines for preventing heart disease in women, identifying certain risk factors that are especially important or unique to women, and some preventive measures that are not useful, including some supplements.

For example, the guidelines, provided by the American Heart Association, say there’s no reason to take supplemental doses of antioxidants such as vitamins C or E to prevent heart disease. The Consumer Reports Health new guide to heart supplements reached the same conclusion for both men and women.

The guidelines also say that low-dose aspirin is generally not appropriate for women younger than 65, though it has been shown to prevent strokes in women older than that. To determine if you’re a candidate, read Should Women Take a Daily Low-Dose Aspirin?

The new recommendations emphasize the importance of controlling traditional risk factors such as:

  • blood pressure
  • cholesterol levels
  • excess weight

Physicians should also now consider pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertensionSee also: Pregnancy Complications Strongly Linked To Heart Disease and Pregnancy: the Ultimate Cardiac Stress Test

In addition, the guidelines say that physicians should ask women about their history of certain autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, both of which are more common in women than men, and both of which have been linked to increased heart risk, possibly by causing inflammation that damages the coronary arteries.  See also: What Other Diagnosis Doubles Your Risk Of Having A Heart Attack?

Finally, doctors should also talk with women about their emotional health, since depression might interfere with their ability to make needed lifestyle changes or adhere to prescribed drugs. And chronic emotional stress might damage the heart directly, in both genders.  See also: Depressed? Who, Me?  Myths and Facts About Depression After A Heart Attack.

Dr. Orly Avitzur, medical adviser to Consumer Reports, explains:

“These new guidelines from the AHA provide a useful reminder of what works, and perhaps more importantly these days, what doesn’t. The report also emphasizes how important it is for women to have a physician who communicates well with them, which is essential for getting the right tests and treatments at the right time.”

Read the American Heart Association guidelines.  See also the Consumer Reports Health ratings of heart screening tests to see the ones recommended based on your age, gender, and risk level.

And use their online calculator to determine your own risk of having a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

3 Responses to “Do you know the new heart health guidelines for women?”

  1. Saanich Sue March 2, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    “…doctors should also talk with women about their emotional health, since depression might interfere with their ability to make needed lifestyle changes or adhere to prescribed drugs…”

    I attended your “Cardiac Cafe” presentation at UVic last month (excellent BTW!) and I recall you telling us about the link between depression and heart disease. It goes both ways – people suffering from depression are more at risk for developing heart disease, and those with heart disease are more at risk for developing depression.

    In my experience, I have observed that many Drs are not trained or skilled at talking to heart patients about emotional health issues. This website is very valuable because you have written quite a few articles about emotional & mental health problems for heart patients. I’m glad the new guidelines include this important advice for Drs.

    Like

  2. Allison February 20, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Bless you for telling us about this important info on women’s heart health. I’m forwarding this to my friends and family. THANKS VERY MUCH! 🙂

    Like

  3. J.W. February 19, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Thanks for bringing this new list to our attention today. Some surprises – pregnancy complications oh my! – and some old common sense tips too. Should be required reading for all women.

    Like

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