Mending – A woman’s heart

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Mending – A woman’s heart

When it comes to heart disease, mainstream medicine leaves women in the lurch. If you are female, don’t assume your doctor will alert you to an increased risk of heart disease. Even healthcare providers who care often miss the signs in women 

The common belief is that women don’t have heart attacks. But in fact heart disease – not cancer – is the number one killer of women. If we have been slow to get that message, the medical profession is partly to blame. Doctors too often dismiss a woman’s chest pains as harmless twinges of stress. Perhaps because of that, if a woman has a heart attack, she’s nearly twice as likely as a man to die in the next few months. If she has bypass surgery, she is, again, about twice as likely to die in the aftermath. And, until recently, a woman undergoing angioplasty, in which a balloon is inflated inside a blocked artery to increase blood flow, had been ten times more likely to die from the procedure than a man. A new, smaller balloon has brought angioplasty’s risk way down. Still, for a woman who is at high risk and wants to head off trouble, good advice is hard to come by, Virtually all the studies on preventing heart disease have ignored women.

You are considered to be at high risk of heart disease if you have two or more of the following risk factors: age over 54; HDL cholesterol under 35; diabetes or high blood pressure; a family history of premature heart disease; a smoking habit.

Age:

A woman’s risk rises as she ages (but rises earlier if she experiences premature menopause and doesn’t take estrogen replacement therapy). If you’re postmenopausal, you are two or three times more likely than a young woman to develop heart disease.

 

Blood Cholesterol:

The general rule for men and women is that a red flag should go up if total cholesterol is above 200 milligrams per deciliter. But there is considerable controversy over just how significant these readings are for women. The over just how significant these reading are for women. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (“good”) cholesterol may be more important, and, indeed, experts recommend that in healthy adults, both levels should be tested every five years. The ratio should be less than 4 to 1. That is, HDLs should account for at least 25 per cent of total cholesterol.

It’s thought that a low level of HDL (less than 325 mg/dl) is a more significant predictor of heart disease in women than in men. Some experts believe that high levels (above 190 mg/dL) of the blood fats known as triglycerides are also especially bad news for women. One reason this may true; High triglycerides tend to be accompanied by low HDL.

Diabetes:

The illness appears to increase the likelihood of heart disease more for women than for men, tripling the chance of dying from heart problems.

Blood Pressure:

If you blood pressure consistently measures above 140/90, you are at greater risk. Keep an eye on those numbers; as you age, you’re more likely than a man to develop high blood pressure.

Family History: If anyone in your immediate family was diagnose with heart disease at an early age – before 65 for women and before 55 for men – you are at greater risk your-self.

Smoking:

A cigarette habit increases the odds of a heart attack by two to six times.


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