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