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The goal in treating women and heart disease is to open narrow or bypass blocked arteries that cause your symptoms. In some women, plaque builds up as an even layer along artery walls, which isn't treatable using procedures such as angioplasty and stenting designed to flatten bulky, irregular plaques. For these women, medications or bypass surgery may be a better option.
Women and Heart Disease Treatment in Burlington, VT
At The University of Vermont Medical Center, all treatments are personalized to your condition. The results of your diagnostic testing and other factors determine the course of action your team of physicians recommends.
Women and heart disease treatment options at The UVM Medical Center include:
Even if you still need medications or bypass surgery, your cardiologist is likely to prescribe lifestyle changes to treat women and heart disease, including:
- Healthy Eating: Follow a heart healthy eating plan that focuses on what you can eat. Try fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. There are some foods to avoid when you're eating heart healthy. Read food ingredient labels and limit your daily intake of saturated fats and salt. Remember there is more you can eat than what you shouldn't.
- Physical Activity: Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, where your heart is pumping, most days of the week. Splitting up the time into 10-15 minute sections is okay as long as your total reaches 30-60 minutes by the end of the day. Try easy ways to increase your daily physical activity such as parking further away from the entrance of stores and walking. Or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Aim for and Maintain a Healthy Weight: Start by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI of 25 or higher is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Then try losing 10 - 15 pounds at the rate of one pound a week. Once you achieve a healthy weight/BMI, maintain it with the other lifestyle changes described here.
- Quit Smoking: Women who smoke are at a greater risk for heart disease than men. We quitting can be hard. That's why we offer a quit smoking program.
Certain heart disease medications, such as thrombolytics tend to be more effective in women than in men.
- Thrombolytics: These are also called clot-busting drugs.
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
- Beta Blockers
- Diuretics: Also known as water pills, these drugs help reduce fluid buildup in the body. They can lessen congestion in the lungs and reduce swelling in the abdomen, legs and feet.
- Aspirin Therapy: Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking aspirin based on your own individual stroke and heart attack risk. Women should not start taking aspirin for heart disease prevention on their own. A daily aspirin benefits both men and women, but there's a difference between men and women in the effects of aspirin therapy. In women, a daily aspirin seems to reduce the risk of stroke more than in men, while in men it reduces the risk of heart attack more than it reduces stroke.
Since angioplasty and stenting are not as effective in treating women and heart disease, a more invasive procedure may be necessary. Bypass surgery uses a vein from another part of your body - usually your leg - to allow blood to flow around the blocked section of the artery.