Preventing Heart Disease in Women
WebMD Live Events Transcript
Heart disease is a leading killer of women, but there are things you can do to protect your heart. Just in time for National Woman's Heart Day, Lori Mosca, MD, chief medical advisor for the Sister to Sister: Everyone Has a Heart Foundation, told us on Feb.17 what you can do now to prevent heart disease.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been
reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you
should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Mosca. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of
death for women in the U.S. But there seems to still linger the perception that
heart disease is a man's disease. What can we do to raise awareness among our
sisters to the dangers of heart disease in women?
It's important that every woman know that heart disease is her leading killer
and each year more women die of cardiovascular disease than men. Programs like
this educate women about their true risk and what they can do to lower it can go
a long way in helping to reduce this.
It's particularly important that all women know their specific risk factors
for heart disease, because general awareness is not enough. Women need to know
what their blood pressure level is, what their cholesterol numbers are, both the
good and the bad, and they need to know what they should be. For example:
- The optimal blood pressure for women should be less
than 120 over 80
- The optimal LDL or bad cholesterol should be less
- The optimal HDL or good cholesterol should be greater
- The triglycerides should be less than 150
In addition, they should know their blood sugar should be less than 100; and
their waist circumference should be less than 35. One more thing, the body mass
index, which is a ratio of the weight over the height squared, should be between
18.5 and 24.9.
Many women do not know their specific numbers, but they can find them out
tomorrow (February 18, 2005) on National Women's Heart Day at one of 12 major
cities across the United States, sponsored by the Sister to Sister Everyone Has
a Heart Foundation. The best news is that the screening is completely free and
you get your results on the spot. You can also get education from health care
providers and experts across the country.
If a woman is unable to attend the free health fair, then she should be sure
the next time she goes to her doctor that she learns her numbers: what they
should be and how best to get there.
Check www.sistertosister.org for a listing of cities.
How do I know, as a layman, that when I see my doctor for my annual check up
that he/she will order ALL the lab tests I need? This would be not just for my
heart but also for my whole body, correct?
The best thing to do is to ask your doctor directly what he or she recommends
for your annual preventive health evaluation. If you are not sure what specific
questions to ask or what might be included in such an exam, you can visit the
New York Presbyterian Hospital Preventive Cardiology web site at
www.hearthealthtimes.com and download recommendations for a preventive screening
exam. Take this form to your doctor and ask what your numbers are and if you
need to be screened for any of the conditions on the list. Don't be shy about
asking your doctor about preventive health care. Most doctors enjoy discussing
health as much as they do treating disease. They appreciate it when a patient
wants to take better care of him/herself. Remember, you have an important
partnership with your doctor.
If a woman experiences heart palpitations but no chest pain, should she be
Sometimes palpitations are benign and sometimes may need further evaluation. If
you are experiencing palpitations, it's important to avoid caffeine, alcohol,
and cigarettes and make a follow-up appointment with your doctor if they do not
subside. If you experience palpitations when you are exerting yourself, it is
especially important to seek medical evaluation. This could be an indication of
a problem with your heart rhythm or sometimes it can be an indication of
coronary artery disease. However, most times palpitations are benign and nothing
to worry about and can be controlled with simple lifestyle techniques. But you
should never assume this and make sure that you've talked to your doctor.
Is it correct that your target heart range (THR) is 220 minus your age?
The target heart range can be calculated by knowing what your maximum heart rate
should be. The maximum heart rate is estimated for most healthy adults by
subtracting the age from 220. This gives the estimated maximum heart rate. Then,
to determine your target heart rate while exercising, you can multiply this
number by 0.6 to 0.8 in most cases. However, when I have a patient with heart
disease I might lower the target heart range or if I have a healthy adult
wanting to increase their fitness level, then I might increase the target heart