AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL WOMEN
ABOUT THEIR HEARTS, FROM WHF PRESIDENT DR. BARBARA ROBERTS
this message was given to 300 women at WHF's annual Women's Heart Week Luncheon at WEAR RED NEW JERSEY Day February 3, 2007
I'm sorry I can't be with you in person today for your second annual WEAR RED-NJ Womenís Heart Luncheon , but I salute you all for working to improve your health.
Many of you have lost loved ones to heart disease. Some of you are living with heart disease. And some of you are determined to do everything you can to prevent heart disease, in yourselves and your loved ones. The good news is that the most common form of heart disease, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is about 90% preventable. And there are only two things that increase your risk of ASCVD that you can't do anything about. One is your age - you can lie about your age but that doesn't change it! As we age, our risk of this condition increases, particularly for women past the age of 55 years. The other thing you can't do anything about is your family history. But all the other risk factors for ASCVD are either avoidable, preventable or treatable.
The risk factors we can do something about are smoking, unhealthy levels of blood fats, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and sedentary life style. Smoking is just a socially acceptable form of suicide. The chemicals inhaled from cigarettes poison every cell in the body. If youíre suicidal get help, but donít smoke! High levels of the "bad" LDL-cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides (another blood fat that increases in persons who are overweight or obese, individuals with diabetes and in women who are taking hormone replacement therapy), and low levels of the "good" HDL-cholesterol all increase the risk of ASCVD in women, especially the latter two.
The mainstay of treating blood fats is a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is a plant-based diet incorporating colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil as the main source of fat calories, fatty fish at least twice a week, meat treated as a condiment, not an entree (and chicken IS meat) and no junk food with their empty calories and trans fats (partially hydrogentated vegetable oils). Have your blood pressure and blood sugar checked and take the medicines your doctor prescribes to bring them down. Maintain a normal body weight by eating sensibly and exercising 30 minutes most days of the week.
My goal is to have every woman, no matter her age, institute these lifestyle changes. If the Women's Heart Foundation can spread the message of a heart healthy lifestyle to every corner of our country, we will have accomplished our goal.
Barbara H. Roberts, MD, FACC
President, The Women's Heart Foundation
Director, The Women's Cardiac Center at The Miriam Hospital
Contributing Editor, Women's Heart Health, ProCOR
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
Brown University School of Medicine
Curriculum vitae for Dr. Roberts