Helping women beat heart disease

Monique Rosado, R.N., cardiacdevice nurse specialist at South Miami Heart Center, helps patients with heart disease live better lives.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, according to the American Heart Association. More than one-third of the women who die in the U.S. each year die of heart disease. In fact, the disease takes the lives of more women than men, and women are more likely than men to die from a sudden heart attack, with no previous symptoms.

The statistics are alarming. Yet surveys show fewer than one in 10 women perceive heart disease as their greatest health threat. Approximately 80 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 60 have at least one risk factor for heart disease, but many do not realize it and do not take proper precautions to safeguard their health. Why the disconnect?

Heart disease has been perceived as an older person’s disease that need not concern women until menopause. For years, women also thought hormone therapy would protect them from heart trouble. But heart attacks can, and do occur at any age. Atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque in artery walls which restricts or blocks blood flow and can lead to heart attack – starts in your teens and 20s.

“It’s important for women to start protecting themselves from heart disease early,” said Carol Biggs, R.N., vice president of South Miami Heart Center. “The first step is to get a screening to learn the numbers that are vitally important to women’s health and life expectancy.”

These numbers include blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels.

Knowing your risk factors is vital. The more risk factors you have and the worse they are, the greater your risk for heart disease. Once you know your risk factors, you can learn whether you’re at high, intermediate or low risk for heart disease. Then you can set goals and work with your doctor to reach them.

The Women’s Heart Program at South Miami Heart Center helps women take care of their cardiovascular health. Women juggle multiple responsibilities and focus on caring for others, such as family, friends, career, and community commitments. In caring for others, they often neglect to care for themselves.

The Heart Center offers screenings for women and men that provide feedback on cardiovascular risk, so early diagnosis and treatment are possible. The screening includes a one-onone consultation with a cardiac nurse, EKG, blood pressure and heart rate screenings, lipid profile (cholesterol, HDL, triglycerides, glucose), cardiac risk profile and physician referral, if needed.

The professionals at South Miami Heart Center have access to Miami’s finest women’s cardiovascular disease care specialists if further treatment is necessary. In addition, the results of your screening may prompt your doctor to recommend lifestyle changes to lower your risk for developing heart disease. These changes may include: eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and highfiber foods; exercising regularly; maintaining a healthy weight; forgoing smoking; reducing stress; and drinking alcohol in moderation.

“You cannot change risk factors such as age and family history, but you can make lifestyle changes that greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack,” said Ted Feldman, M.D., a cardiologist affiliated with South Miami Heart Center.

The Women’s Heart Program is conveniently located in South Miami Hospital’s Medical Arts Building at 6200 Sunset Drive. To schedule a consultation, call 786-662-2222, or visit

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