Guidelines on Preventing Heart Disease in Women

Medical Author: Dr. Daniel Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Medical Editor: Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler

As more information is learned on the prevention of coronary artery disease, it becomes increasingly clear that women should be considered at similar risk as men, and should undergo equally as aggressive preventative measures. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in women, accounting for 38% of deaths among women, according to the American Heart Association.

The accepted risk factors for coronary artery disease (lipid status, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and genetic profile) should be as aggressively pursued and modified in women as well as men. Every effort should be made to lower LDL cholesterol (ideally below 70-80), increase HDL cholesterol, use whatever means to stop smoking, and control blood pressure, especially in women with multiple risk factors. This includes aggressive dietary measures, 45 to 90 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, and pharmaceutical therapies as directed by by one's personal physician. The majority of over the counter supplements have not been proven to be of benefit in preventing coronary artery disease - including folic acid, antioxidants such as Vitamin E, and beta carotene.