Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing about one in five women each year. Whether you're knowingly at risk for heart disease or not, it's important to take steps to ensure your heart is as healthy as possible for years to come.
We spoke with Christina Reuss, MD, a cardiologist and independent member of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, who shared several things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. Here's what she had to say:
- Talk to your doctor about your obstetrical history.
If you were previously diagnosed with preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension or gestational diabetes, you’re considered at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke. Your doctor should be aware of this, so you can be monitored more closely.
- Get screened for inflammatory conditions.
Women with inflammatory conditions like psoriasis or chronic inflammatory states like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus have a higher risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, so will need more regular screenings.
- Request to be screened earlier.
By knowing your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index), you can know whether your heart is healthy or at risk for heart disease. Early and regular screenings can have life-changing effects. The American Heart Association recommends women begin undergoing regular heart screenings by the age of 20. Talk to your doctor to find out what screenings are right for you and how often you should expect to do them.
- Create an action plan.
Work with your primary care provider or heart specialist to create an action plan. There are many things you can do to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle and to dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Keep in mind that using birth control pills and smoking boosts your risk of heart disease by 20%, so you'll want to be screened more frequently.
Care that's made with you in mind
If you need heart care, we've got you covered. Whether you live in the metro Phoenix area or you're looking to travel to HonorHealth from another part of the state or country, you'll receive in-depth care designed with your convenience in mind.