Heart disease: it’s one of the top killers of both men and women in North America — and it’s especially on the rise in women. Due to various risk factors — both inherent and avoidable — women especially have been facing a higher mortality rate to this disease. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.
With an increase in awareness, many women are starting to take notice of this devastating disease. Plus, with growing recognition that heart disease is indeed a serious threat for women of all ages and backgrounds, ‘prevention’ is now the new buzzword. You can take control of risk factors and help prevent this disease from striking your most vital organ — your heart.
Thanks to a new development in assessing the risk factors associated with heart disease, women may now be armed with yet another means of assessing and fighting this condition. Researchers have developed a new tool that can assess just how at risk a woman is, which can help contribute to the administration of the appropriate form of preventive treatment and thus help keep the disease at bay.
When it comes to certain risk factors — such as age, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and high cholesterol levels, for example — they can be assessed as contributors to cardiovascular disease. The authors of the study noted: “Over time, these markers were codified into global risk scores for assessment of cardiovascular risk. However, for women, up to 20 percent of all coronary events occur in the absence of these major risk factors, whereas many women with traditional risk factors do not experience coronary events.”
So, while our awareness of this disease has increased over the past 40 years or so, it still appears that the predictive models that are in place for women have remained barely unchanged all this time for women. The researchers in the study set out to change this, including both traditional and newer risk factors that should be considered for assessment in the new model.
By looking at 35 risk factors among 24,558 healthy women (45 years and up in age), the researchers assessed data from two-thirds of the women to determine what types of risk patterns were occurring that caused cardiovascular events to occur, such as heart attack, ischemic stroke, coronary revascularization, and cardiovascular death. They then took these patterns, or algorithms, to develop the Reynolds Risk Score.
The Reynolds Risk Score considers such risk factors as blood pressure, smoking, HDL and total cholesterol levels, a high sensitivity to C-reactive protein, and hereditary risk factors in order to determine a woman’s risk of suffering from heart disease before she reaches the age of 60.
By applying the new tool, researchers stated that they have “. . .developed, validated and demonstrated highly improved accuracy of two clinical algorithms for global cardiovascular risk prediction that reclassified 40 percent to 50 percent of women at intermediate risk into higher- or lower-risk categories. As eight to 10 million U.S. women have an ATP-III estimated 10-year risk between five percent and 20 percent, application of these data could have an immediate.”
Speak to your doctor about the Reynolds Risk Score in order to determine when it will be available to you. For now, you should be aware of the risks regardless. Stay informed, take proactive steps to safeguarding your heart, and know that heart disease is a serious and real risk. It’s up to you to keep your heart safe and healthy.