Recent Study Reveals Reproductive Risk Factors Women Face For Heart Disease And Stroke

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Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group talks about a new study while emphasizing that healthcare providers need to be vigilant about screening women for cardiovascular disease.

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Routine screening for cardiovascular issues is something we do for our patients and something we might be able to target better now ...

Research containing new data on risk factors for heart attack and stroke comes from a very large study of more than half a million men and women of up to the age of 69 who were recruited between 2006 and 2010. Ultimately the health of 267,440 women and 215,088 men was tracked over the course of the study, or until participants had their first heart attack or stroke, whichever came first. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease when they entered the study. From this, more than 9,000 cases of cardiovascular disease were recorded, a third of which were in women.

Highlights of the study found higher risk factors for women who experienced:

  •     periods starting before age 12 (10% increased risk)
  •     early menopause (33% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, 42% of stroke)
  •     pregnancy complications (up to 44% higher risk depending on factor)
  •     Hysterectomy (12% cardiovascular disease, heart disease 20%)

This study was large, and the researchers determined a range of potentially influential factors (see full results here).

"This study is particularly important for healthcare providers,” explains Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa. “Routine screening for cardiovascular issues is something we do for our patients and something we might be able to target better now, given this new information. This is something every healthcare provider needs to be aware of.”

Heart Disease: a serious health factor for women
The American Heart Association says cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause one out of three deaths in women every year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases. A whopping ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke and fewer women survive heart attacks then do men.

More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, less than 50 percent of those with heart failure live a full five years following diagnosis. The deadly duo of heart disease and stroke are among the most prevalent and costly health complications today. Heart disease or stroke wreak havoc on people’s lives measured in increased medical bills, lost wages and decreased quality of living.

  •     1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States
  •     800,000 deaths occur from heart disease each year, a total of 1 in every 3 deaths – about the same number as die from cancer, respiratory disease and accidents - combined
  •     150,000 of deaths from heart disease occur in people under age 65
  •     $320 billion in health care costs and lost productivity were attributed to heart disease and stroke in 2011

The top five ways to manage heart disease include; controlling high blood pressure (with the help of a healthcare provider), a daily routine of physical activity (at least 20 minutes per day), eat whole foods (avoid processed alternatives), avoid excess salt and quit smoking.

“Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those who have known risk factors for heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Emad. “Lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.”

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit our website.

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John Beilharz
since: 07/2014
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