| Statement from Barbara Alving, M.D., Acting Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, on Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health endorses the evidence based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women released today by the American Heart Association. These guidelines promise to improve and enhance efforts to reduce the terrible burden of cardiovascular disease among women. Although there have been tremendous improvements in the prevention and treatment of CVD, it remains the top killer of women, as well as men, in the United States. Thus, efforts to attack cardiovascular disease through prevention strategies are vitally important.
The guidelines support these efforts by giving health care providers a document that assembles in one place the evidence-based recommendations from the NHLBI and other authoritative scientific sources and new recommendations where appropriate. The document thus provides guidance on the best cardiovascular disease preventive care for women with a broad range of cardiovascular risk.
The American Heart Association guidelines incorporate and support guidelines developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, and the Obesity Education Initiative, programs administered by the NHLBI.
The document groups women into categories of high, intermediate, and lower risk, allowing physicians and other health care providers to match the intensity of risk intervention to the level of CVD risk.
Recommendations range from lifestyle interventions such as following a heart healthy diet and incorporating physical activity to the use of specific drugs required to treat risk factors for CVD.
But none of these interventions can occur if women do not realize that they are at risk for heart disease. As the new survey released by the American Heart Association shows, women have made gains in their awareness of heart disease. In 2003, 46 percent of women surveyed listed heart disease as women’s leading cause of death, better than the 34 percent in 2000 but still short of full awareness. It’s also good news that 90 to 100 percent of women recognized that exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking, making dietary choices that reduce cholesterol levels, and reducing salt intake are useful lifestyle changes. We’re pleased to see these improvements and they show that public awareness and education campaigns like NHLBI’s Heart Truth are beginning to have an impact. The Heart Truth is primarily targeted to women ages 40 to 60, the time when a woman’s risk of heart disease begins to increase. The Heart Truth’s Red Dress is the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness and serves as an urgent reminder to every woman to take care of her heart. This Friday, February 6, 2004, is National Wear Red Day. This awareness day, designated in a presidential proclamation, provides women and men across the country a way to be a part of this national Heart Truth awareness movement.
The Heart Truth doesn’t stop on February 6. As the survey showed, fewer than half of all women consider themselves very well informed or well informed about heart disease, a figure that The Heart Truth hopes to change.
For additional information, visit http://www.hearttruth.gov.