Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Yet most cases can be prevented. Doctors say reducing deaths from heart disease will require not only changes in the way people live. It will also require changes in public policy, and better public knowledge about differences in heart disease between men and women. Two conditions, coronary artery disease and microvascular disease, can both reduce blood flow to the heart. Experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston say heart disease in women is more likely to be caused by microvascular disease. Finding this condition may require tests other than an angiogram. An angiogram is a kind of X-ray test.
Doctors use it to look for a buildup of fatty plaque material that can block arteries. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. The World Health Organization says heart disease kills eighteen million women a year. And these are not just older women. Carrie Vincent had a heart attack after giving birth to her first child at the age of thirty-one. Ms. Vincent is now taking her message to women at meetings in their homes through an organization called Sister to Sister. Irene Pollin started Sister to Sister to educate women about heart disease. Ms. Pollin urges women to learn about their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease. Ms. Pollin teamed up with a heart specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Joanne Foody works mostly on prevention efforts. She says, “The good news is we know that ninety percent of heart disease is preventable by reducing risk.” That means not smoking, and it means controlling or avoiding diabetes. It also means keeping a healthy weight and eating healthy foods. And it means exercising at least thirty minutes on most days and managing or reducing stress.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian at the Harvard School of Public Health also has other advice. He says people should eat more fish, whole grains, vegetables, vegetable oils and nuts, and reduce the amount of salt and trans fats in their diets. Trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease.Heart disease increases women in developing countries. Dr. Mozaffarian places a lot of blame on the global epidemic of obesity. He says, “People are getting chronic diseases not from eating too much, but eating poorly. And so in fact what they’re not eating is actually probably mostly what’s harming them.” For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal.
Words in This Story
coronary – n. an extremely dangerous medical condition in which the flow of blood to the heart is blocked by a blood clot (= a mass of blood)
artery – n. one of the thick tubes that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body
microvascular – adj. relating to the smallest blood vessels
plaque – n. a flat piece of metal, stone, wood, or plastic with writing on it that is attached to a wall, door, or other object
blame – n. the situation in which people say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening
epidemic – n. the appearance of a particular disease in a large number of people at the same time
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