Which is a bigger threat to women’s health: heart disease or breast cancer? If you answered heart disease, congratulations! You are better informed than nearly 50% of American women and many doctors, including cardiologists according to a recent study published in Journal of the American Academy of Cardiology. The researchers uncovered alarming gaps in knowledge among both women and their healthcare providers about the leading killer of women: heart disease, which claims more women’s lives each year than all forms of cancer combined.

Also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), heart disease remains underdiagnosed and undertreated in women. The BaleDoneen Method is striving to change that by empowering women with the facts they need to take charge of their health TODAY. Follow these crucial steps to protect your heart health — and please share them with women you care about.

  1. Understand the facts. Rates of heart disease 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 and optimal treatment are the keys to prevention.
  2. Be aware of female-specific red flags for cardiovascular risk. Alert your healthcare provider if you have any of these red flags that warn of increased risk for CVD: polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), lupus, psoriasis or other autoimmune disorders, migraine headache with aura, a history of preeclampsia or gestational diabetes during pregnancy, depression, a high stress level, rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory disorders, or bleeding gums. Any of these red flags — or a family history of heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes — suggests that you would benefit from a complete BaleDoneen Method assessment of your heart health.
  3. Recognize that risk factor analysis may leave women dangerously unprotected. The study discussed above, which analyzed survey data from women, primary care providers and cardiologists, reported that healthcare providers are less likely to assess women’s heart health during annual checkups than men’s, and they frequently underestimate women’s cardiovascular risk as compared to that of risk-matched male patients. Unlike standard care, the BaleDoneen Method doesn’t rely solely on risk factor analysis. We also use laboratory and imaging tests, such as a painless 15-minute, FDA-approved ultrasound scan, to directly check for hidden signs of arterial disease.
  4. Get checked for root causes of heart disease. Root causes are conditions that can lead to plaque buildup and inflammation in your arteries: the dangerous duo that can spark a heart attack or stroke. One of the most common is insulin resistance, the root cause of 73% of heart attacks in women and nearly all cases of type 2 diabetes. A recent peer-reviewed BaleDoneen paper has been called “landmark” because it was the first to identify oral bacteria from gum disease as a contributing cause of CVD.
  5. A healthy lifestyle lowers your risk for CVD by 88%. Protect your heart health by following these lifestyle habits: Exercise at least 22 minutes a day with aerobic workouts, after checking with your healthcare provider to make these activities are right for you; avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and exposure to all forms of nicotine; reduce the stress in your life (practicing mindfulness is a great way to dispel tension); and average seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Another powerful benefit of lifting your lifestyle to the next level is lower risk for type 2 diabetes!
  6. Healthy gums help prevent heart attacks! If you haven’t seen your dental provider lately, you’re missing out on key screenings and treatments that could help you avoid dangerous health threats, including heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, some forms of cancer and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. All of these disorders, and many others, have been linked to poor oral health in recent studies. In a recent study of older adults, those who hadn’t seen a dentist in the previous year had a 50% higher death rate during the study period than those who went two or more times annually. Also check out our easy four-step plan to optimize your oral and arterial health.

Save a life. Large studies reveal a frightening trend: Women are up to three times more likely to die from a heart attack than men, largely due to unequal care and treatment. It’s crucial for women to be their own best advocates and to partner with their healthcare provider to get optimal care. The BaleDoneen Method, practiced by hundreds of medical and dental providers around the US, has been shown in two recent peer-reviewed studies to prevent, stabilize and even reverse CVD. Please share this article with women you know — and also check out our top ten prevention tips for women.