Women’s Health: Reducing the Risk for Heart Disease

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February 15, 2019

Women’s Health: Reducing the Risk for Heart Disease

Valaine B. Hewitt, MD, FACC, Cardiology

Heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death for women. Over time, arteries that supply the heart or brain with blood can slowly develop deposits of cholesterol and inflammatory cells, called plaque. If the plaque is disturbed, a blood clot can form and suddenly block blood flow in a narrowed artery, causing a heart attack or stroke. Risk factors, including habits, age, gender, and family history of heart disease can increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. “This may sound daunting,” says Valaine B. Hewitt, M.D., FACC, cardiologist at Holy Redeemer, “but once you you’re your risks, there are numerous steps you can take to prevent heart disease.”

Here are some guidelines to follow to reduce your risk:

Getting Regular Physicals

Have an annual physical to see if there are any changes in your health. If you have heart disease in your immediate family, or other risk factors, your doctor can recommend the appropriate screenings or treatments.

Eating a Healthy Diet

A heart-healthy diet including more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and limited salt, fat, and carbohydrates can have a positive impact on your health.


Exercise can help improve your overall health. If you haven’t exercised for a while, or have health problems, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Losing Weight

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder and may increase the risk of high blood pressure and developing diabetes. Your doctor can help you find safe ways to gradually lose weight and keep it off.

Reducing Stress

Stress causes the release of adrenaline which speeds up your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels, and increases your blood pressure, making your heart work harder. Find ways to release and relieve stress by relaxing, meditating, exercising, or making lifestyle changes.

Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking will improve your overall health and help reduce the odds of developing heart disease. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit smoking and to stay smoke free for life.

Decreasing High Cholesterol

When blood cholesterol levels are elevated, there is an increased risk of plaque deposits forming in your arteries. To reduce high cholesterol levels, limit how much cholesterol and fat you eat, exercise regularly, and ask your physician if medication is appropriate.

Reducing High Blood Pressure

If your blood pressure is high, it puts extra strain on your heart. Exercising, losing weight, quitting smoking, or taking medication can help reduce your blood pressure.

Managing Diabetes

It is extremely important to work with your healthcare provider to manage and control your diabetes. Diabetes damages blood vessels and promotes plaque formation, seriously increasing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Take Control of your Heart Health

By better managing your diet, controlling your blood pressure and weight, getting regular exercise, and making changes to your health habits, you can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease and improve your overall health.

For more information on cardiovascular services at Holy Redeemer, visit our cardiovascular services page or call the Holy Redeemer Information and Physician Referral department at 800-818-4747.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Greensboro Imaging
Awesome post! At Greensboro Imaging, we also offer some good insight into cardiovascular disease risk factors and prevention measures. You can read all of the information here: https://www.greensboroimaging.com/2018/02/26/lets-fight-cardiovascular-disease/

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