american heart association released up-dated evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (cvd) in women. the aha guidelines incorporate and endorse other guidelines developed by the national cholesterol education program, the national high blood pressure education program, and the obesity education initiative, and have the backing of more than a dozen medical societies and public health agencies, including the centers for disease control and prevention and the national heart, lung, and blood institute (nhlbi) of the national institutes of health.
these guidelines group women into categories of high, intermediate, and lower risk, allowing physicians and other health care providers to match the intensity of risk intervention to the level of cvd risk. recommendations range from lifestyle interventions such as following a heart healthy diet and incorporating physical activity to the use of specific drugs required to treat risk factors for cvd. smoking cessation, healthy eating, physical activity and weight maintenance are identified as priorities. the guidelines recommend that those at high risk be treated aggressively with ace inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins, aspirin and blood pressure-lowering medications.
aha guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women recommend that physicians:
- tailor preventive regimens to a woman's individual level of risk for heart disease.
- encourage smoking cessation, regular physical activity, good diet and maintenance of a healthy weight for all women.
- prescribe ace inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins and aspirin to all high-risk women, and consider omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid.
- prescribe antihypertensives when blood pressure is higher than 140/90.
- work with diabetics to carefully control blood sugar.
- evaluate women with heart disease for depression, and treat or refer as necessary.
- not advise low-risk women to take aspirin regularly (because of gastrointestinal tract risks).
- not prescribe hormone therapy or antioxidant vitamins for cvd prevention.
[color=#008080]the 2004 american heart association's evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women are accessible at: