What’s the leading cause of death in women?

This article is sponsored by Adventist Health Care

While many consider heart disease a “men’s” disease, it is important to remember that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Despite a greater emphasis on healthy lifestyles and advances in treatment, women under the age of 50 have not demonstrated the improvement in heart disease death rates noted in men.

According to Dr. Daisy Lazarous, a cardiologist with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group, 95% of all women in the U.S. have at least one risk factor for heart disease. “This statistic is very concerning because not only are a large number of women affected, but many of the risk factors are preventable through simple lifestyle changes.”

Ninety percent of all heart attack risk can be attributed to nine preventable factors, notes Dr. Lazarous.  These are:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor eating habits
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Stress

“For women, this is not just about whether your mother or father had heart disease.  Your heart’s health is connected to the lifestyle choices you make,” says Dr. Lazarous. “Making a change in any one of these can change your overall health and prevent future health problems, especially heart disease.”

While similar risk factors affect men and women, there are important differences.   Women with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely as men to have coronary heart disease.

Stress can also affect younger women more than men, especially stress in the workplace, according to Dr. Lazarous. She explains there are simple steps all women can take to help reduce their risks for heart disease, even if genetics work against them.

First, she says, all women should know their numbers. “I encourage all my patients, especially women, to know their numbers,” states Dr. Lazarous.  “Most of us know the year, make and model of our cars. Our health numbers are just as important to know.”

Important heart health-related numbers such as  LDL or bad cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose or A1C, can identify conditions like diabetes and heart disease early and help prevent a major health event in the future.

Next, Dr. Lazarous suggests a brisk walk for 30 minutes five days a week, or any other form of exercise you enjoy (dancing) to help reduce your heart disease risk.  Take steps toward maintaining a healthy weight.  Look out for the salt shaker—reducing the salt you eat has important implications for heart disease, hypertension and risk of stroke.

Finally, Dr. Lazarous advises that women take active steps to identify their heart disease risk.  She notes that heart disease risk is often underestimated in women. .

During February, American Heart Month, take a few minutes to un understand and improve heart health.  Start by taking Adventist HealthCare’s FREE, online heart risk assessment.  Complete the risk assessment in February for a chance to win a free weekend getaway for two at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay or gift certificates to Copper Canyon Grill.

Also during February, Copper Canyon Grill locations in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg will offer a heart healthy menu sponsored by Adventist HealthCare.  Visit www.TrustedHeartCare.com to learn more. Remember, always dial 9-1-1 if you think you are having a heart attack.


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