High Carb Intake Linked to Heart Disease in Women

If you are a lady who likes her carbs, you may want to think about how much white bread, pizza and rice you are eating. Foods with a high sugar content can also increase your risk of heart disease, according to the results of a new study. The good news is that eating pasta doesn’t appear to increase the risk of developing heart disease.

The research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and scientists have concluded that eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, cause a woman’s blood sugar to rise rapidly. The spike in blood sugar levels can damage the heart.

Men process carbohydrates in a different way, and don’t have the same health risks when they consume foods with a high glycemic index. What should you be eating for good heart health?

Start by choosing whole grains more often. Switch to 60 percent whole wheat bread and once you get used to its taste, try 100 percent whole wheat. If you like to eat cereal, read the labels to find brands made from whole grains, as opposed to the ones with a high sugar content. Buy brown rice instead of the white variety.

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is another strategy that is good for your heart. Fruits do contain carbs, but since they are absorbed by the body less quickly than foods made with white flour, they don’t increase the risk of heart disease. Again, you can start by making some simple changes to your diet, such as eating fruit at breakfast or eating a salad at lunch or dinner more often.

You are more likely to stick with the positive changes you are making to your eating habits if you start slowly. Even making one small change at a time will pay off over the long term.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Heart Disease in Women Linked

Researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins have released the results of a 14-year study on women with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and heart disease. The results were very interesting, to say the least: Women who had at least five symptoms of PTSD were at an increased risk for developing heart disease. The risk factor increased by 300 percent.

PTSD falls under the category of anxiety disorders, which affect approximately 10 percent of the general population. Both children and adults can develop symptoms, which can be so severe that they interfere with normal living.

After being involved in a traumatic event, such as an accident, natural disaster, combat, or being the victim of a crime, the individual may start to experience flashbacks or nightmares. In the second phase of the disorder, the person feels emotionally numb and starts to avoid places or circumstances that remind them of the traumatic event.

As the disorder progressed, the person may have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is common for people with PTSD, and they may have trouble focusing on tasks they need to perform. Some people living with PTSD become more aggressive as the disorder develops.

The results of the study into PTSD and heart disease in women point to women with the disorder being identified as an “at risk” portion of the population. Not only do they need to get treatment for the PTSD, but they must also be made aware of the increased risk of heart disease the disorder poses for them. Doctors need to provide information about ways to reduce the risk and encourage their patients to implement them at a time when they are not feeling at their best. The results of this study underscore the need for women with PTSD to seek prompt treatment for the condition, since there can be serious health consequences along with the effects of the PTSD itself.

Women’s Health Suffers When Doctors Ignore Heart Disease Symptoms

Although heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, many doctors are failing to give their female patients the kind of information and treatment they need for these disorders. Even when presented with symptoms of heart disease, all too often doctors fail to make the connection and offer appropriate interventions and treatment. When a woman is taken to a community hospital in the United States with symptoms of heart disease, often treatment given doesn’t follow the guidelines set out for these health problems. In contrast, a man who is admitted to hospital with the same symptoms will likely receive the following kinds of treatments:

  • Aspirin
  • Angioplasty procedures
  • Beta blockers
  • Medications to break up clots
  • Surgery to improve blood flow to the heart

The sad fact is that women who are admitted to hospital after suffering a STEMI (ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction), which is a serious heart attack, are more likely to die as a result than men are.

Doctors need to adopt a different mindset when it comes to treating heart disease in women. Instead of discounting the symptoms they see, medical personnel need to consider that if the symptoms point to heart disease, then they need to provide treatment for that condition.

This is not an impossible task for North American doctors; physicians in Israel have adopted a more aggressive policy when it comes to treating women for heart disease. As a result, the gap in mortality rates between men and women due to heart disease in that country has closed.

According to the American Heart Association, 455,000 women lost their lives due to heart disease in 2006. It’s disturbing to think that many of these fatalities could be prevented if the women were given more appropriate treatment.

Doctors Can Help to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease can be prevented if women are given the information they need to stay healthy. Doctors, who are on the front lines of health care, can and should be telling their female patients to take care of their health by doing the following:

  • Eating a balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly
  • Having their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked as part of their annual health checkup

If high cholesterol and/or blood pressure is detected, then the doctor can offer treatments for the condition. Medications may be prescribed, and the woman will need to follow up with her doctor on a regular basis to keep her condition monitored closely.

Educate Yourself About Heart Disease

The key to staying healthy is to take charge of your own health. Learn as much as you can about heart disease and the risk factors associated with this condition. When you visit your doctor for your healthcare needs, make a point of bringing up heart disease if he or she doesn’t address it.

Ask about what you can do to stay healthy, and follow your doctor’s suggestions. This advice is especially important if there is a family history of cardiovascular problems, since your risk goes up in that situation.

Feeling Loved Good for Heart Disease Prevention

Having a good relationship with your significant other not only feels good, but it can help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Research has found that women with heart disease who said that they felt loved and supported by a partner tend to have less serious blockage of the arteries than those who did not have a good romantic relationship. The same relationship between a supportive partner and severity of heart disease symptoms was found in men.

When scientists at Yale University studied the coronary arteries of 119 people, they found that the people who reported that they felt loved had less severe blockages. The quality of the relationship was found to be more important than the number of relationships a person had. Interestingly enough, this finding was quite independent of other factors that determine the level of risk for heart disease, such as family history, level of exercise, smoking, and diet.

The results of a study conducted in 1992 were equally as interesting. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center considered the effect having someone you can confide in regularly has on heart disease. All the 1,400 people who participated had blocked coronary arteries. Five years later, the participants who were not married and did not have someone to talk to about personal matters were three times more likely to have died than those people with at least one person they could confide in.

Canadian research shows similar results. People who have close relationships (romantic or otherwise) with other people had a 50 percent lower risk of heart attack. The lack of support may mean that people at risk are less likely to get prompt treatment for symptoms and may be less likely to stick to the follow-up program suggested by their doctor.

People who are either married or have a close relationship with another person are more likely to take better care of themselves than people who are on their own. They are less likely to smoke and are more physically active.

Anxiety and stress levels tend to be lower for these people as well. Conversely, being involved in a relationship that is negative or full of stress doesn’t have these positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

If you already have a good relationship with a significant other, then do what you can to preserve it. Make a point of spending time together doing something that you both find enjoyable. Being physically active together is good for your heart and will help your relationship, too.

Find ways to communicate effectively about your needs and to resolve conflicts. It is probably unrealistic to strive for a conflict-free relationship, so you need to develop these skills to deal with the issues that will inevitably come up.

If you don’t have a significant other in your life, you can get support from a friend. Find someone that you can talk to about how your life is going and do the same for them. Your arteries will be much healthier for it.