New Guidelines for Lowering Women’s Heart and Stroke Risks

The American Heart Association released updated guidelines this week for preventing cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) in women. The guidelines, which were published in a special issue of the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, provide new information on how aspirin, hormone therapy, and supplements should (or should not) be used in women for cardiovascular disease prevention.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States; it is responsible for 38% of deaths among women. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and about 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. According to the American Heart Association, diabetes “appears to be an even stronger contributing risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.”


The new guidelines urge health-care professionals to focus on women’s lifetime risk of developing heart disease and stroke, not just their short-term risk, which was the focus of previous guidelines released in 2004. They also contain some changes from the recommendations published in 2004, based on more recently published research. For instance, taking folic acid supplements has not been shown to be effective at protecting the heart by recent studies, even though it is currently used by many people and recommended by many physicians.

The 2007 “Evidence-Based Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women” include the following:

For more information on preventing cardiovascular disease, visit the “Heart Health” section of our Web site. You can also determine your personal risk for heart disease online at

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Tara Dairman: Tara Dairman is a former Web Editor of (Tara Dairman is not a medical professional.)

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