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While some of these factors, such as age and family history, cannot be modified, there are plenty others that can. The first step a woman can do towards reducing her risk of coronary disease is to take more responsibility for her health. Women must insist on a thorough risk assessment from their healthcare provider, and not be afraid to ask questions.
The American Heart Association suggests that every woman ask her healthcare provider these 10 questions about cardiovascular disease:
What are my risk factors for heart disease?
Am I at risk for a stroke?
What are the warning signs of heart disease and a stroke?
What should I know about the effects of menopause on my heart health?
Do I need to lose or gain weight for my health?
What is a healthful eating plan for me?
What kind of physical activity is right for me?
What is my blood pressure, and is it appropriate for my age?
What is my cholesterol level, and is it healthy or does it need improving?
Based on my history and risk factors, what can I do to lower my risk of heart disease and stroke?
For mature women, the question of menopause and heart health is particularly important. Long gone is the misconception that estrogen protects post-menopausal women from heart disease. Therefore, mature women need to maintain an open dialog with their primary care physician and gynecologist on the subject, and again do not be afraid to ask questions.
"Women are underrepresented in terms of the workup we do in the cardiac world," says Henrico Doctor’s Hospital cardiologist Dr. Gary Zeevi. "After menopause all women should have a fairly extensive evaluation of their coronary risk."
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