IHA - What a woman needs to know about coronary artery disease
Cardiac risk factors are elements present in your health profile which raise your risk of developing coronary artery disease. These elements are factors you cannot change such as your age and your family.
Women over the age of 55 are at a greater risk, as are those who have parents, children or siblings who have developed heart disease at an early age. That includes male relatives under 55 years of age and female relatives under 65 years of age.
Another cardiac risk factor is gender, likely related to estrogen. If you are postmenopausal, the risk of developing heart disease increases. Unfortunately it has been found that supplementation with estrogen replacement therapy does not help protect you from heart disease.
There are also factors that you can control. Modifiable risk factors are those that you can impact and improve your chances for a longer and healthier life. These include the following:
- Abnormal cholesterol, particularly high LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
- High blood pressure: normal blood pressure is defined as less than 140/80, although lower is better.
- Tobacco use: any current use of cigarettes or other tobacco products dramatically increases your risk of death from heart disease and stroke. It is never too late to quit. It is important to remember that most of who successfully quit have tried before, so don’t give up!
- Diabetes mellitus: high sugar level, an increasing health issue in America today.
- Sedentary lifestyle (no physical activity): we need to get out and move, ideally every day!
- Obesity (defined as a body mass index, or BMI, of over 30): Linked to many health problems and an increasing public health risk in America today.
- Psychosocial factors including depression and social isolation.
- Speak to your health care provider regarding your risk for developing coronary artery disease.
- Get out and move, preferably a regular exercise program to keep it fun and interesting. Find a buddy so you can encourage each other.
- Pursue a healthy diet.
- Optimize your weight, optimally a BMI under 25.
Barbara Kong, MD, FACC, FACP, is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology. In practice for over 20 years, Dr. Kong’s interests are in clinical cardiology and non-invasive imaging. She has particular interest in the area of cardiovascular disease in women and opened the first specialized center for women with heart disease in southeast Michigan. She practices at IHA Cardiology Consultants located in the IHA Milan Medical Center at 870 Arkona Road, Suite 100, Milan, MI 48160. She can be reached at 734-439-4005. For more information please visit www.ihacares.com.