Cardiovascular disease is the chief cause of death among women. Nevertheless, in a recent survey of women, only 13% responded that their own greatest health threat was heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the chief cause of death among women. Nevertheless, in a recent survey of women, only 13% responded that their own greatest health threat was heart disease.1 Although the manifestations of heart disease develop later in women than in men, inadequate preventive measures, sex-based disparities in treatment, and the aging of the US population result in the deaths of more than 500,000 women from this disease every year.
The first evidence-based recommendations for cardiovascular disease prevention in women were published in 2004 (Table).2 Tool kits based on these guidelines were distributed to 80,000 physicians as part of the Go Red for Women campaign of the American Heart Association, which seeks to raise awareness of women's cardiovascular risks and the measures that can be implemented to reduce them.
Consistently encourage women not to smoke and to avoid environmental tobacco smoke.
Consistently encourage women to accumulate a minimum of 30 min of moderate-intensity physical activity (eg, brisk walking) on most, and preferably all, days of the week.
Advise women with a recent acute coronary syndrome or coronary intervention, or new-onset or chronic angina, to participate in a comprehensive risk-reduction regimen, such as cardiac rehabilitation or a physician-guided home- or community-based program.
Consistently encourage an overall healthful eating pattern that includes intake of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish, legumes, and sources of protein low in saturated fat (eg, poultry, lean meats, plant sources). Limit saturated fat intake to < 10% of calories, limit cholesterol intake to < 300 mg/d, and limit intake of trans fatty acids.
Consistently encourage weight maintenance/reduction through an appropriate balance of physical activity, caloric intake, and formal behavioral programs when indicated to maintain/achieve a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2 and a waist circumference< 35 in.
Evaluate women with CVD for depression andrefer/treat when indicated.
Omega-3 fatty acids
As an adjunct to diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplementsmay be considered in high-risk* women.
As an adjunct to diet, folic acid supplementation maybe considered in high-risk* women (except after arevascularization procedure) if a higher than normallevel of homocysteine has been detected.
Mosca L, Ferris A, Fabunmi R, Robertson RM; American Heart Association. Tracking women's awareness of heart disease: an American Heart Association national study.
Mosca L, Appel LJ, Benjamin EJ, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women.