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Healthy Hearts

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Main Line Health’s Lankenau Heart Institute is committed to providing cardiovascular care to men and women at all ages. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative encourages women – throughout their lives, to take charge of their heart health and to pay attention to signs and risk factors of heart disease.

Managing your heart disease risk factors can make a significant impact on your health—especially if you start now. “Changing some behavioral risk factors in your life may change your overall health and wellbeing,” says Dr. Andrea Becker, Lankenau Heart Institute cardiologist. “Others are genetic and therefore cannot be affected by behavior change. Knowing your family history is very important for early diagnosis and preventative therapy,” Dr. Becker continued.

Young women should consider:

  • A blood pressure screening, as high blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke & usually has no symptoms so it cannot be detected.
  • A fasting lipid profile to measure your total LDL cholesterol & your HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • A BMI (body mass index) calculation which helps to determine whether you are at a healthy body weight.

Pregnant women face specific health risks and challenges. Regular prenatal checkups are important for you and your baby, as pregnancy related complications can predict future cardiovascular disease.

  • Preeclampsia is a problem that may develop during pregnancy. It causes normal blood pressure to rise to dangerously high levels. This condition can lead to health risks for you and your baby during pregnancy and make you twice as likely to have a future heart attack or stroke.
  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Not all mothers-to-be develop it, but all women should be tested for it after six months of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes often goes away after delivery, but having had it raises a woman’s risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the future.

Menopausal women face unique risk factors and symptoms because their bodies produce less estrogen and other hormones during this time, increasing their risks of cardiovascular disease. Menopausal women are also increasingly exposed to the risk of heart disease due to:

  • Slower metabolism, which may lead to weight gain
  • Increased levels of blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

“Women are at the heart of our communities, homes, and businesses. It’s important for organizations like Lankenau Heart Institute and the American Heart Association to give women the resources they need to take control of their health and continue to thrive,” says Lankenau Heart Institute cardiologist, Dr. Leslie Poor. Lankenau Heart Institute is proud to partner with the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women in support of healthy hearts for all women in the Greater Philadelphia area. Schedule a visit with your primary care provider and make sure he/she knows your family history, your baseline health and your personal risk factors. Call 1.866.CALL.MLH or visit mainlinehealth.org.

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