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Updated guidelines advise focusing on women's lifetime heart risk

Health care professionals should focus on women's lifetime heart disease risk, not just short-term risk, according to updated American Heart Association guidelines.

The 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women published today in a special women's health issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association also include new directions for using aspirin, hormone therapy and vitamin and mineral supplements in heart disease and stroke prevention in women.

"The updated guidelines emphasize the lifetime risk of women, not just the more short-term focus of the 2004 guidelines," said Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and chair of the American Heart Association expert panel that wrote the guidelines. "We took a long-term view of heart disease prevention because the lifetime risk of dying of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is nearly one in three for women. This underscores the importance of healthy lifestyles in women of all ages to reduce the long-term risk of heart and blood vessel diseases."

The guidelines include a new paradigm for risk assessment based on risk factors and family history, as well as the Framingham risk score. (First published in 1998, the Framingham risk score estimates the risk of developing coronary heart disease within 10 years.)

The new guidelines include expanded recommendations on lifestyle factors such as physical activity, nutrition and smoking cessation, as well as more in-depth recommendations on drug treatments for blood pressure and cholesterol control.

Furthermore, guidelines on hormone and aspirin therapy and antioxidant and folic acid supplements are revised based on recently published data.

"Since the last guidelines were developed, more definitive clinical trials became available to suggest that health care providers should consider aspirin in women to prevent stroke," Mosca said. "In addition, providers shoul
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Contact: Cathy Lewis
cathy.lewis@heart.org
214-706-1324
American Heart Association
19-Feb-2007


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