Eric M. Janis, MD, FACC, of Wake Heart and Vascular and a member of the Johnston Health medical staff, recently gave a presentation to the community on heart disease in women. Here are some key messages from Dr. Janis.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Current statistics show that 1 in 4 women will die of heart disease, but education can be the key to reducing this number. In 1997, only 30% of women knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death. In 2010, 57% of women knew the correct answer, so more and more women are becoming aware of the facts. If women are educated on these facts early on, then they will know the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent, or at least postpone, heart disease.
Focusing on reducing these 3 major risk factors can decrease your risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and other heart problems.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it doesn’t have any symptoms. Even women who have had healthy blood pressure their whole lives can be at risk for high blood pressure as they age. If you are mindful of high blood pressure and take measures to lower it, you can decrease your risk of stroke by 40%, risk of heart attack by 25%, and risk of heart failure by 50%.
High cholesterol is another major risk factor for heart disease. Too much cholesterol in the body causes arteries to narrow and blood flow to the heart to slow down. Blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if this gets slowed down or shut off completely, a heart attack can occur. It’s important to have your cholesterol numbers checked and take the proper measures to decrease those numbers if they are too high.
Women with diabetes have five times the risk of heart disease as women without diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has increased 50% in the last 10 years, so this is an increasing risk factor for heart disease in women. The onset of heart disease occurs at an earlier age for someone with diabetes. It is important for women to take precautions to prevent the onset of diabetes in order to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
What Can You Do?
Start practicing these diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce all 3 risk factors:
- Maintain a regular exercise routine
- Keep your weight under control
- Lower the salt intake in your diet
- Reduce saturated fat intake in your diet
- Follow a heart healthy diet
- Limit alcohol intake
- Avoid tobacco products
- Take the proper medication
Visit www.johnstonhealth.org for more information.