More American women die from heart disease than anything else. This year it will kill 370,000 women. Another 93,000 will die from stroke. But it doesn't have to happen to you. According to an updated handbook from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women can take steps to prevent heart disease.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH has revised the Healthy Heart Handbook for Women. There are now 100 pages of the latest information on preventing cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and chest pain.
"The central message of this handbook is that heart disease is every woman's concern," says NHLBI Director Claude Lenfant, M.D. "We can pour millions of dollars into research, but women can benefit only if they use this knowledge to improve their health."
Dr. Lenfant says one in ten women aged 45 to 64 has some form of heart disease. After the age of 65, the number climbs to one in four. Women, like men, are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases if they smoke, have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, are overweight, are sedentary, or have diabetes.
Did you know that of all women in the United States:
- More than half over age 65 have high blood pressure
- One fourth have high blood cholesterol levels
- More than half are overweight or obese
- Only 40 percent do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days
The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women helps women develop a personal action plan for reducing the major risk factors. There's also news on other factors, like stress, birth control pills, and alcohol and facts on the role of hormone replacement therapy, aspirin, and vitamins. For women with heart disease, a new section explains diagnostic tests, medications, and warning signs and offers advice on talking to the doctor and preparing a heart attack survival plan. Hungry? Find tips on choosing low-fat, low-cholesterol foods and enjoy over a dozen recipes like Bavarian Beef, Baked Pork Chops, Rice Pudding, and Crunchy Pumpkin Pie.
"We want health care professionals to have the latest information on research advances and prevention strategies," says Dr. Lenfant. "But the final responsibility for heart health lies with each woman, because only she can make the lifestyle changes that protect against or control cardiovascular diseases."
The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women was originally published in 1992 and immediately became a U.S. Government best-seller. About 30,000 copies were sold. According to a nationwide survey, most people buy it for personal use, but many nurses and other health care providers use it to educate patients.
The handbook can be downloaded free of charge at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Printed copies are available for $5.50 through the NHLBI Information Center, P.O. Box 30105, Bethesda, Maryland 20825-0105, or telephone (301) 251-1222 or fax (301) 251-1223.