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Published on February 01, 2011

Women's Wellness February 2011

Heart Health in Women: Understanding Your Risk

For women, the most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries—the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. Coronary artery disease is a common cause of heart attack.

Understanding your risk for heart disease is one of the most important steps toward prevention. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease:  

  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit or don't start smoking.
  • Eat a diet that's low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.

You'll also need to take prescribed medications appropriately, such as blood pressure medications, blood thinners and aspirin. And you'll need to better manage other conditions that are risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Certain risk factors, however, are greater in women. Those factors include mental stress and depression, smoking, and low levels of estrogen after menopause.

The American Heart Association is urging women to be more aggressive about cutting their heart disease and stroke risks. A daily aspirin can have a number of benefits for women, such as preventing heart attacks and strokes and reducing heart disease risk. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what medications will help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

To find a Crozer-Keystone cardiologist who’s right for you, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org. To schedule a cardiac testing appointment at a CKHS facility, call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573) or visit http://ckheart.crozer.org.

Reviewed by Edward LaPorta, M.D., chief of the Section of Cardiology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. He has office locations in Drexel Hill and Springfield, and can be reached at (610) 259-0240.

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