February marks American Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness of the leading killer of U.S. men and women: cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although CVD is highly preventable and treatable if caught early, it claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Women, in particular, are under-diagnosed and undertreated for the leading threat to their health. The BaleDoneen Method strives to change that by empowering women with the knowledge they need to take charge of their health TODAY. Follow these seven crucial steps to protect women’s hearts.

  1. Understand the facts. Rates of CVD are rising by 1.3% annually in women ages 33 to 44. Overall, heart attacks are the leading cause of death and disability in American women. Every 34 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack and every minute, someone dies from one. Another alarming fact: 64% of women who die suddenly from a heart attack were not previously aware that they had CVD, which typically develops silently over many years. That means early detection is the key to prevention, a topic that will be discussed more fully later in this newsletter.
  2. Be aware of female-specific Red Flags. Alert your medical provider if you have any of these warning signs of increased CVD risk: migraine headaches with a visual aura, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), inflammatory disorders, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, a history of gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, bleeding gums, depression, a family history of heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes, or a resting heart rate above 75 beats per minute. Any of these Red Flags suggest that you’d benefit from a complete BaleDoneen Method assessment of your arterial health.
  3. Why guidelines fail to protect women. About 82% of women who have heart attacks would be classified as “low risk” under current guidelines, which base risk calculations on age, gender, systolic blood pressure (the top number), total cholesterol level, and smoking status. While these factors are important, women also need to be aware of the Red Flags listed above and what’s different about women’s hearts. We (women) have smaller arteries and hearts than men do, and different signs of CVD. Before a heart attack, the most common symptoms in women are heavy sweating, nausea and shortness of breath–not chest pain. If you develop these symptoms, get immediate medical help.
  4. Get checked for Root Causes of heart disease. Root Causes are conditions that cause plaque buildup and inflammation in your arteries. One of the most common is insulin resistance, a root cause of 73% of heart attacks in women and of type 2 diabetes. Later in this newsletter, we’ll discuss the best test to check for this disorder. A peer-reviewed BaleDoneen study published in British Journal of Medicine was the first to identify another treatable Root Cause of CVD: Gum disease triggered by certain periodontal bacteria.
  5. Optimal lifestyle reduces CVD risk by 88%. Take excellent care of your heart today by following these simple lifestyle tips: Avoid soda (both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened carbonated beverages). Exercise at least 22 minutes every day, with brisk walking or other aerobic workouts, after checking with your healthcare provider if these activities are right for you. Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep nightly to cut risk for diabetes, obesity and CVD.
  6. Healthy gums help prevent heart attacks. Your dental provider is a key member of your heart-attack-and-stroke-prevention team! Big studies show that people who take great care of their teeth and gums, with daily brushing and flossing, plus getting dental care two or more times a year, or as advised by their dental provider, live longer than those who neglect their oral health. The BaleDoneen study cited above demonstrates why dental care is so crucial: A healthy mouth helps protect arterial wellness!
  7. Be your own best advocate. Since current guidelines often miss women at risk for a heart attack–leaving them undiagnosed until an event occurs–it’s crucial for women to partner with their healthcare provider to get optimal, personalized care. The comprehensive BaleDoneen Method has been shown in two peer-reviewed studies to prevent, stabilize and even reverse CVD!