Heart disease is the number one killer of women. So as a woman, there are important numbers to pay attention to as you progress through life.
Keep your weight at a healthy level, and don't accumulate fat around the middle. Watch your blood pressure, and maintain a normal glucose level. These are all a part of preventing heart disease.
Additionally, cholesterol levels play a significant role in this progression and the American Heart Association has changed the cholesterol guidelines which may affect the way you do or do not take medication.
Traditionally, total cholesterol needed to be under 200mg/dL while your LDL levels should be under 100mg/dL. Your HDL should be above 40mg/dL for men and above 50mg/dL for women. Those who had elevated cholesterol were advised to start a cholesterol lowering medication.
Now people are divided into two broad categories.
First is the high risk group of people who have diabetes or history of stroke or heart attack and/or an LDL level above 190mg/dL. This category is advised to take cholesterol medication – particularly a statin drug.
The second category is those who do the new Cardiovascular Risk Calculator and have a risk of at least 7.5 percent in the next 10 years.
The calculator evaluates:
- Systolic blood pressure reading
- Whether or not you are being treated for high blood pressure, total cholesterol levels, HDL levels
- Whether or not you are diabetic
- Whether or not you are a smoker.
Those above 7.5 percent are advised to take cholesterol medication.
This is a big change from simply looking at LDL levels.
While there is a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia where high cholesterol is genetic, lifestyle choices should be strongly taken into consideration in order to lower any and all risk.
Diet, exercise, overweight/obesity, and stress can all play a role in the various factors contributing to heart disease and should be immediately and continually addressed. Even borderline levels of blood sugar and blood pressure need to be a personal focus as they are, in many cases, preventable.