An expert panel of doctors and researchers was commissioned by the American Heart Association to update the 2004 guidelines for prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women.
The revised guidelines are designed to help doctors treat not just high risk female patients, but also those women who have a moderate or lower risk of developing heart problems in their lifetime.
The updated guidelines, released in December 2007, are based on a systematic search of current clinical studies and recommend that doctors evaluate and consider a woman’s risk beyond the standard Framingham score used in 2004. The new guidelines require a physician to evaluate:
• family history of heart disease
• lifestyle factors (smoking, exercise habits, diet)
New recommendations for the prevention of heart disease in women include:
• Use of appropriate drug treatments to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Low doses of aspirin to prevent strokes
• Elimination of hormone replacement of therapy (HRT) as a preventative measure against heart disease for post-menopausal women
• Lack of support for dietary supplements like vitamin E, vitamin C and folic acid in preventing heart disease
The authors assert “nearly all women are at risk for CVD, underscoring the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle in everyone.” CVD is the largest single cause of death among women in the US, accounting for 38 percent of all deaths in females.
Mosca, L. et al, 2007. Circulation. “Evidence-Based Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women: 2007 Update”
Am Heart Assn, 2007. “Updated Guidelines Advise Focusing on Women’s Lifetime Heart Risk.”
NIH, 1998. “An Ounce of Prevention—A Guide to Heart Health,” US Dept of Health and Human Services. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/heart/latino/foto_eng.pdf
NIH, 2008 “Heart Diseases—Prevention,” multiple links provided by the US Dept of Health and Human Services. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartdiseasesprevention.html