Treatment Differences May Increase Heart Disease Risk in Women

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 15, 2014

Women are less likely to be treated with potent cholesterol-lowering statins.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Yet a new research study led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) finds that women often remain unaware of their risk for heart disease and that differences exist in the treatment patterns and outcomes between men and women presenting with heart disease.

The study, titled “Women are Less Likely to Receive Evidence-Based Lipid Lowering Therapy:  Insights from a Managed Care Population,” is co-authored by Dr. JoAnne Foody, Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Service, and Dr. Fatima Rodriguez, senior resident, Cardiovascular Medicine.

Dr. Foody and her team compared high-risk men and women treated with cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins over a four-year period. Women in the study were less likely than men to achieve optimal levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), because they were less likely to receive treatment during the study period. The women were also less likely to receive treatment with more potent statins.

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It’s Never Too Soon to Take Care of Your Heart

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 5, 2014

David is getting his heart health back on track.

You’ve probably heard this statistic before – heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. Yet many of us may not pay attention to this statistic, believing a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are adequate protection from heart disease. However, paying attention to your risk factors also is key in preventing heart disease.

David Wang was in his forties, a healthy eater, and a regular at the gym. David also had high cholesterol, a fact which, unaddressed, led to serious consequences. During a business trip, David started experiencing sweaty palms, numb fingertips, and shortness of breath – classic heart attack symptoms. With no family history of heart disease, he thought he was having an allergic reaction. But colleagues brought him to an emergency room, where a physician confirmed he was having a heart attack.

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Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter, Tip #10

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 28, 2013

It's important to know your wellness numbers and which ones are most important to you.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’ve been featuring health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Today, we present the final tip.

10. KNOWING YOUR NUMBERS IS NOT ENOUGH: KNOW WHICH NUMBERS ARE MEANINGFUL TO YOU.

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Your Health: Ten Things that Really Matter (Part 3)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 27, 2013

Tip #9: Be active!

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

7. IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR PROVIDERS.

Ask Me 3™ is a patient education program to promote communication between health care providers and patients to help improve health outcomes. The program encourages patients to understand the answers to three questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important for me to do this?

Patients should be encouraged to ask their providers these three simple but essential questions in every health care interaction. Likewise, providers should always encourage their patients to understand the answers to these three questions. Studies show that people who thoroughly understand health instructions make fewer mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for a medical procedure. They also may get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health condition.

TIP:  Bring all of your medications (including over the counter) to your annual physical.

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Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter (Part 2)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 26, 2013

Inadequate sleep can lead to anxiety, overeating, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, and other problems.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

4. PREVENT DIABETES.

Patients with diabetes take longer to heal from injuries than those without. Diabetes can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, impaired vision, and neuropathy. Although diabetes can come from a genetic predisposition, a high-sugar diet and lack of exercise are modifiable risk factors. Exercise, even without associated weight loss, can improve the body’s glucose control. Studies show that physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes. One hundred and fifty minutes per week (or just 30 minutes per day on weekdays) can reduce your risk of getting diabetes or reduce dependence on medications if you already have diabetes.

It’s never too late. If you have diabetes, you can still exercise. Just make sure you check your blood sugars regularly and be honest with your doctor about your exercise level. Together, you can come up with a plan to balance your exercise level and medications to help with blood sugar control.

TIP:  Use a pedometer!  It is much more fun to count steps than carbohydrates.  If you like the sweet stuff, try to avoid snacks with high sugar content, as they don’t make you feel full.

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Your Health: Ten Things that Really Matter (Part 1)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 25, 2013

Health tip #1: Quit smoking.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

1. DON’T SMOKE: IF YOU DO SMOKE, STOP.

Smoking promotes multiple medical problems, including chronic health issues like heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, and cancer. The same is true for all tobacco-containing products, from cigars to chewing tobacco. Secondhand smoke should also be avoided.  Improvements in health, including lifespan and activity level, begin the day you quit. While quitting should be the goal, even simply decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke can improve your life. Preventive efforts, like lowering cholesterol, may be especially effective in decreasing risk for smokers and former smokers.

TIP: If you’ve tried quitting, keep trying!  Research shows it takes an average of three to five tries to quit. If you’re struggling, ask your doctor for help.

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The Great American Smokeout: Make It the Event of a Lifetime

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 6, 2012

The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 37th Great American Smokeout will take place on November 15, 2012, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is joining the ACS in encouraging smokers to use that date as a launching point for developing a plan to quit – or to plan ahead to go cold turkey on that very day.

The reasons for quitting are numerous, but the benefit to your lungs is the most significant.

Not only is lung cancer the leading cause of cancer death in both U.S. men and women, but it is also one of the most preventable kinds of cancer. At least four out of five cases of lung cancer are associated with cigarette smoking, making tobacco use the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.

Despite these statistics, more than 45 million Americans continue to smoke cigarettes. However, it is estimated that more than half of these smokers also tried to quit for at least one day in the past year, demonstrating that just as the benefits of quitting are obvious, so are the difficulties of trying to kick the habit for good.

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