Reported By: Marc Pickard
The American Heart Association Wednesday issued the results of an eye-opening survey, along with guidelines on how to prevent cardiovascular disease in women. The guidelines place the responsibility on women and their doctors to clinically assess a woman’s risk of heart disease and to take significant steps to reduce that risk.
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Rene Curtis started feeling symptoms in her 30s and was told that it was nothing serious. “The first [diagnosis] was chronic fatigue syndrome, the second was panic disorder, the third was fibromyalgia and then panic disorder again,” she said. Three years ago, after she could not climb the steps to her house, she went to an emergency room and demanded to see a cardiologist. “Two days later, I underwent surgery for a 90 percent blockage in a major artery,” she said. Curtis was only 44 years old.
“[The] message for women is heart disease is your biggest risk. It affects everyone. There’s no one who hasn’t been touched by it,” said Dr. Jay Kulkin of the American Heart Association. “Learn what your risk category is, work with your physician.” Nearly 500,000 American women die each from cardiovascular disease and it is the number one cause of death in women. Yet, the American Heart Association survey shows that only 13 percent of women see heart disease as their greatest risk. "We want women to have information, information they can use for themselves,” Kulkin said.
Guidelines released Wednesday use the familiar call to stop smoking, exercise more, eat better and control weight. But they also talk about using special drugs and diet supplements to control risk. The guidelines also ask doctors to learn how to use cholesterol-lowering drugs, how to use aspirin treating the risk of heart disease and how to communicate the importance of modifying unhealthy lifestyles.
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