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Health Watch: Updated Heart Guidelines For Women

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The American Heart Association updated its Heart Disease Prevention Guidelines for Women today, and women who have complications during pregnancy are among those added to the at-risk category, it being equivalent to having failed a stress test.

Alyson Miller developed diabetes during her first pregnancy.

“I was able to control the diabetes by diet alone. I didn’t have to go on medication,” said Alyson. Her glucose levels went back to normal after she delivered, but a new report finds that even four years later, she may still have risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.

“Women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, diabetes during pregnancy or really bad high blood pressure during pregnancy, we call that preeclampsia, seem to be more prone to develop heart disease in the next decade or two after that happens to them,” said Dr. Timothy Shapiro, a Cardiologist at Lankenau Hospital. He says the updated American Heart Association guidelines also show women with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are at higher risk for heart problems.

“I don’t think this it’s alarming or bad news. I think it’s great that people now may have a warning ahead of time, and say, ‘Hey, I’m somebody that needs close follow-up with my doctor,’” said Dr. Shapiro.

The new guidelines also give prevention advice to women on diet, exercise and taking a daily aspirin if needed.

Nancy Trunk, a tech at Lankenau Hospital, says she doesn’t want women following in her foot steps. She’s had three stents to open up her blocked artery.

“Make sure you take care of yourself. Exercise, eat right and come to the doctors,” said Nancy.

Women at risk for heart disease should be monitored regularly by their doctor, so that conditions like high blood pressure can be caught early and treated to prevent disease.

Click here to view the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Guidelines for Women.
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Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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