Women and Cardiovascular Disease

A Woman's Heart - Unique Features of Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Women and Cardiovascular Disease
 
Contact Us

Heart Disease Prevention—Guidelines for a Healthy Heart1

With the recognition that women face a greater risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, guidelines for heart-disease prevention for women have been drafted. An updated set of guidelines from the American Heart Association that focuses on long-term preventive strategies was published in 2011. Recommendations include:

  • Lifestyle changes, including smoking cessation and moderation in alcohol consumption
  • Increased physical activity, with at least 150 min/wk of moderate exercise, 75 min/wk of vigorous exercise, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
  • Consumption of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; whole-grain, high-fiber foods; and oily fish, with limited consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, trans-fatty acids, sodium, and sugar
  • Weight control through an appropriate balance of physical activity, caloric intake, and formal behavioral programs when indicated to maintain or achieve an appropriate body weight
  • Maintenance of an optimal blood pressure of <120/80 mm Hg. Pharmacotherapy is indicated when blood pressure is ≥140/90 mm Hg (≥130/80 mm Hg in the setting of chronic kidney disease and diabetes mellitus)
  • Encouraging healthy lipid levels through lifestyle approaches: LDL-C <100 mg/dL, HDL-C >50 mg/dL, triglycerides <150 mg/dL, and non–HDL-C (total cholesterol minus HDL) <130 mg/dL. LDL-C–lowering drug therapy is recommended simultaneously with lifestyle therapy in women with CHD to achieve an LDL-C <100 mg/dL. In women >60 years of age and with an estimated CHD risk >10%, statins could be considered if hsCRP is >2 mg/dL after lifestyle modification and no acute inflammatory process is present.
  • Lifestyle and pharmacotherapy can be useful in women with diabetes mellitus to achieve an HbA1C <7% if this can be accomplished without significant hypoglycemia.
  • Regardless of the cardiovascular-disease status, the routine use of low-dose aspirin in women 65 years or older needs to be considered only if benefits are likely to outweigh risks.

Resources
1. Mosca L, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, et al. Effectiveness-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women – 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Mar 22; 57(12):1404-1423.