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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

St. Joseph's Health Connections

Sep 21 2013
What should you know about Heart Disease?


By Uzma Iqbal, MD, FACC, FASE 



One in every three U.S. adults has some form of cardiovascular disease. Two million Americans have a heart attack or stroke each year, resulting in about one death every 39 seconds according to the Mayo Clinic. If you're a woman, the risk is even greater. The American Heart Association estimates that heart disease affects nearly 43 million women each year. Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.


Women are often diagnosed later when the disease is much more advanced, says St. Joseph’s cardiologist, Dr. Uzma Iqbal. “Our society has done a great job with breast cancer awareness, to the point where women feel obligated to get a mammogram and know the results. But not everyone gets their cholesterol and blood pressure checked, and even then we leave it to the doctor to decide, we’re not motivated to determine what changes to make for ourselves.”


The way healthcare is moving now, Iqbal says, hopefully it will become a priority to prevent heart disease instead of treating it when the damage is already done. Regardless of gender or ethnicity, the most important fact is that cardiovascular disease is preventable. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 80 percent by controlling your risk factors.



The World Health Federation outlines six risk factors for heart disease and stroke:

Tobacco use and exposure

Being overweight or obese

Lack of physical activity

High blood pressure

Poor blood cholesterol



Know Your Numbers


Women have the same risk factors as men, and for some factors their risk is higher than men. Both men and women should pay attention to these key numbers for heart health.


Blood Pressure: An optimal level is less than 120/80; Pre-hypertension is from 120 to 139 (systolic) or from 80 to 89 (diastolic); Hypertension--or high blood pressure--is 140 or higher (systolic) and 90 or higher (diastolic).


Cholesterol: HDL (“good” cholesterol) of 50 mg/dL or higher, if you’re a woman, or 40 mg/dL or higher, if you’re a man; Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower; Optimal LDL (“bad”cholesterol) is 100 or lower; Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.


Waist Size: A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that heart patients with a large waist size (greater than 35 inches for women and 40 for men) were at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic problems, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol.


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The information provided on this site should not be taken as medical advice. As always, we strongly recommend that you consult with a physician if you have any medical concerns.