The American Heart Association has published its 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women. The main recommendation is that health care professionals need to assess women’s long-term risk for heart disease, not simply their short-term risk.
The guidelines appear in the February 19 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. They also offer new advice on aspirin use, hormone therapy, and vitamin and mineral supplements with regard to heart disease prevention in women.
“The updated guidelines emphasize the lifetime risk of women, not just the more short-term focus of the 2004 guidelines,” said Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “We took a long-term view of heart disease prevention because the lifetime risk of dying of cardiovascular disease is nearly one in three for women. This underscores the importance of healthy lifestyles in women of all ages to reduce the long-term risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.”
Some of the new recommendations include:
–Lifestyle changes intended to control high blood pressure, such as watching weight, getting more exercise, drinking in moderation, limiting sodium intake, and adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products to the diet.
–Reducing saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories.
–Increasing omega-3 fatty acid in the diet by eating oily fish at least twice per week and taking supplements containing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
–Raising the upper dosage of aspirin from 162 mg. to 325 mg. for women who are at high risk for heart disease.
–Not using menopausal therapies such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) for heart disease prevention. Current data indicates that such therapies are not effective in preventing heart disease, and that they may increase stroke risk.
–Not using folic acid or antioxidant supplements to prevent heart disease.
“The new guidelines reinforce that unregulated dietary supplements are not a method proven to prevent heart disease,” said Mosca. “For example, recent studies have shown that folic acid is ineffective to protect the heart despite widespread use by patients and physicians hoping for a heart benefit. These recent findings emphasize the importance of using well-conducted clinical trial data to develop national recommendations to help patients and their doctors use best practices to prevent heart disease – practices based on data rather than myth or wishful thinking.”
For more information on the new guidelines, visit http://www.americanheart.org .
Source: American Heart Association