High Blood Pressure Management
Over time, high blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage the blood vessels, allowing cholesterol and other substances to build up. High blood pressure also increases the workload on the heart, which can affect the heart's pumping ability and may lead to a heart attack. Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk of coronary artery disease and other heart problems, and it is the most serious risk factor for stroke. Even slightly high levels double your risk. Talk to your physician and make sure your blood pressure is at the recommended level of 120/80 or below.
High blood pressure is also the number one risk factor for congestive heart failure. Heart failure is a life-threatening condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. Congestive heart failure occurs when excess fluid starts to back up into the lungs, causing tiredness, weakness, and breathing difficulties.
Found in the bloodstream and tissues, cholesterol is an important building block of cells in the body. But too much cholesterol in the blood may lead to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, which can contribute to heart attack or stroke. Today, about one-quarter of American women have blood cholesterol levels that pose a serious risk of coronary heart disease. Evidence supports the belief that lowering total cholesterol can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death for almost everyone, including many women with average to high cholesterol levels. This is especially true for those women already at risk for heart disease. Talk to your physician and make sure your cholesterol level is under 200.
Diabetes is a stronger risk factor for coronary artery disease in women than in men, increasing risk three- to sevenfold. Women with diabetes are more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher triglyceride levels, low levels of good cholesterol, and problems with how well the heart can pump. Diabetes may double the risk of death from coronary artery disease. If you have diabetes, talk to your physician about a management plan.
Estrogen (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is a general term for the use of female hormones (estrogen or estrogen and progesterone) by women who have gone through menopause. The benefits of using HRT remain very controversial. Talk to your physician about whether hormone replacement therapy is right for you.