June 11, 2004
More women die every year from heart disease
than all forms of cancer combined, and yet we are not as vigilant
about protecting our hearts as we are about protecting our breasts.
What are we waiting for?
Protecting yourself against heart disease is as
simple as making changes in your diet, taking certain nutrients,
and incorporating stress reduction techniques and exercise into
The most common cause of heart attacks in women
is coronary artery disease, a narrowing of one or more of the arteries
that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. This narrowing is due
to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is a thick,
waxy, yellowish substance consisting primarily of cholesterol, smooth
muscle cells, and foam cells. Just as the gunk clogging your drain
won’t let water flow down, the plaque clogging your arteries won’t
let blood flow, starving the heart and eventually leading to a heart
There are three key areas you can control that
contribute to coronary artery disease:
Cholesterol is a yellowish, waxy substance your liver produces to
help make hormones and vitamin D. (You also get cholesterol through
the foods you eat, primarily dairy, meat and fish.) Because it is
waxy, and your blood is water-based, your body attaches it to different
compounds to transport it through the bloodstream. The two main
compounds are low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad
cholesterol), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the good
cholesterol). HDL helps take excess cholesterol back to the liver,
where your body gets rid of it through bile. Cholesterol that is
attached to LDL, however, can build up and damage the inner lining
of blood vessel walls, causing plaque to form, much like the plaque
on your teeth. This plaque then narrows the blood vessel walls,
restricting the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-carrying blood.
The key is trying to keep your HDL levels high
and your LDL levels low.
These small round bodies produced in bone marrow and stored in the
spleen make up much of your blood. If your platelets are excessively
sticky, it becomes easier for blood clots to form. Then these platelets
can stick to arteries where plaque has formed, eventually blocking
the vessel wall and leading to a heart attack.
Triglycerides are the form in which your body stores fat. If you
have elevated triglycerides (a level of 190 mg/dL or greater), you
run a greater risk of coronary artery disease.
Read More on Heart Health:
Different Gender, Different Symptoms
Quiz: What Is Your Risk of Heart Disease?
Keep it SIMPLE Heart tip Fiber, Fiber, Fiber
Foods That Help Your Heart, Foods That Hurt It
Mineral Deficiencies Lead to Heart Problems
home | contact
policy | terms and conditions | press