cholesterol ratio

Surprising Facts About Women And Heart Disease

February 6, 2013 at 9:29 am , by

Way too many women are still dying of heart disease. We need to talk about women’s heart health all year long, of course, but February is the month when marketing and media really flex their muscles to raise awareness. So we asked Lisa Collier Cool, a member of the Journal’s new Health and Wellness Blogger Team, to surprise us with some facts from her upcoming book. Check it out!

By Lisa Collier Cool

Life insurance companies know a secret that most doctors never tell patients: When it comes to rating your risk for a fatal heart attack, the least important cholesterol number is your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Instead, actuaries use a math formula to tell if you might be headed for a heart attack. They divide your total cholesterol by your HDL (good) cholesterol level. If the ratio is below three, you’re likely to qualify for the best insurance rates because your heart-attack risk is relatively low. (However, any abnormal cholesterol result, including high LDL, can pose a threat to your heart, especially when combined with other risk factors.)

That’s just one of the surprising facts I learned while working on my upcoming book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene, with coauthors Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doneen, ARNP, co-founders of the Bale/Doneen Method of heart and stroke prevention. Here are seven more things you may not know about women’s heart health.

1. Since 1984, heart disease has killed more women than men each year, claiming more women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined.
2. Getting a flu shot cuts your risk for a heart attack or stroke by up to 50 percent.
3. For a healthy heart, take a few days off from work. Women who only go on vacations once every six years, or less often, are eight times more likely to suffer heart attacks or die from cardiac causes than those who vacation at least twice a year, according to a 20-year study.
4. Delicious news: People who eat the most dark chocolate are 37 percent less likely to get heart disease, and 29 percent less likely to have a stroke, than those who eat the least chocolate, an analysis of studies involving 114,009 people found. However, a square or two a day is all you need.
5. Yo-yo dieting can harm women’s hearts, a new study reports.
6. Seventy percent of heart attacks have the same root cause as type 2 diabetes: insulin resistance. Find out if you’re at risk by asking your healthcare provider to order a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test to check for abnormal blood sugar.
7. Fifty percent of women who have a heart attack don’t call 911, often because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Click here to find out the warning signs and more shocking facts about women and heart disease.

Photo copyright antoniomas, shutterstock.com