The 2007 American Heart Association Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women were published in a special women’s health issue of Circulation: Journal of The American Heart Association, have been published and released.
The new guidelines replace the guidelines published in 2004. The newer guidelines put more emphasis on lifetime, rather than short term care. They also include new directions fro using aspirin, hormone therapy and vitamin and mineral supplements in heart disease and stroke prevention in women.
The new recommendations are based upon newer research and more definitive clinical trials. “The new data suggests that health care providers should consider aspirin in women to prevent stroke,” said Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and chair of the American Heart Associating expert panel that wrote the guidelines, “In addition, providers should not use menopausal therapies such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as raloxifene or tomoxifene to prevent heart disease because they have been shown to be ineffective in protecting the heart and may increase the risk of stroke.”
“The new guidelines reinforce that unregulated dietary supplements are not a method proven to prevent heart disease. 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,” Mosca says “These recent finding emphasize the importance of using well conducted clinical trial data to develop national recommendations to help patients and their doctors us best practices to prevent heart disease – practices based on data rather than myth or wishful thinking.”
Cardiovascular disease is the single largest cause of death among women. 38 percent of all death among females is due to cardiovascular disease. The high risk factor of cardiovascular disease, and the ominous results, makes is important for everybody to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle. Women who already have risk factors are candidates for more aggressive preventive therapy.
Doctors can identify high-risk women easily, but other levels of risk are harder to identify. Therefore, the recommendations emphasize more aggressive recommendations for high risk women. Other women should adopt lifestyle strategies to reduce risk in all women.
Therefore, all women should adopt lifestyle strategies such as reaching, or maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol, quitting smoking, limiting saturated fat intake, and watching omega-3 fatty acid intake. Physicians may identify high risk women and make other recommendations. If you are a high risk woman, consult your doctor.
The lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, low fat diet, and fresh food are healthful lifestyle changes that benefit women. Following are the recommendations, according to the guideline:
1. Manage blood pressure with lifestyle changes such as: weight control, increased physical activity, alcohol moderation, and sodium restriction. Diet should emphasize fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
2. The recommendation to quit smoking is supported by helpful support, such as counseling, nicotine replacement and other forms of smoking cessation therapy. Therefore, the recommendation goes beyond the advice to quit smoking to giving support to help the patient quit smoking.
3. Physical activity for women who need to lose weight, or who need to sustain a weight loss, should be a minimum of 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, per day. This level of activity should be sustained daily. If not daily, exercise should be taken most days of the week.
4. Women should reduce saturated fats intake to less than 7 percent of calorie intake.
5. Women should be aware of Omega 3 fatty acid. Eat oily fish at least twice a week. Women with heart disease should consider taking a capsule supplement of 850 to 1,000 mg of EPS and DHA. Women with high triglycerides should take 2 to 4 grams.
6. Hormone replacement therapy and selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERMS) are not recommended to prevent heart disease in women.
7. Antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin E, C, and beta-carotene, should not be used for primary or secondary prevention of Cardiovascular disease.
8. Folic acid should not be used to prevent cardiovascular disease. This is a change from the 2004 guidelines, which did recommend folic acid for certain high risk women.
9. Routine low dose aspirin therapy may be considered in women age 65 or older regardless of Cardiovascular disease status, if benefits are likely to outweigh other risks. This is different form the 2004 guidelines which did not recommend aspirin in lower risk or healthy women.
10. The upper dosage of aspirin for high-risk women has increased to 325 mg per day, up from 162 mg. This brings the women’s guideline up to date with other published guidelines.
Women should consult a physician with questions about their cardiovaascular health.
This articles is not intended as medical advice.