LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. In this Healthcast, we talk to a cardiovascular surgeon about what you can do today to make sure your heart health is in check.
Many women believe that cancer is the biggest health threat in their lifetimes, but that's not actually true: heart disease is the leading killer of American women. Cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Steve Howe with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital says, "As much as we have stressed the mammography, the pap smears and have made a real difference in screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer - heart disease is as important in that list."
Dr. Howe says women are just as susceptible as men to cardiac disease, whether it's a result of lifestyle choices - like smoking, poor eating and exercise habits or hereditary factors. "Elevated cholesterol in their family, hypertension and diabetes," says Dr. Howe, "these things that run in families often can cause a predisposition to having serious heart disease at an early age."
While there are no specific tests to detect heart disease, Dr. Howe says every woman should have a basic check-up at least once a year after menopause to check for underlying problems. "Where a physician listens to your history, listens to your heart, gets an EKG," says Dr. Howe, "check your cholesterol - these are all standard things that are done by primary care physicians and internal medical physicians that are giving you basic annual maintenance care."
This basic care could tip doctors off to undetected heart disease or higher risks of developing it. With that information you can modify, treat and control many of the factors to lower your risk.
*To learn your risk for heart disease and stroke, you can take the Go Red Heart Check-Up, just click here.