Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Saturday at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

2014 NATIONAL EVENT

Health & Wellness
AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

The Heart Hazard Facing Women

Too many women — and their doctors — think of heart disease as a men's issue; they're wrong

 Before I begin heart surgery, I always glance down at the patient and wonder, "How did this person get here, and what could he or she have done to avoid it?" The sad truth is that the ailments I operate on are usually preventable, and in a perfect world I would be out of a job.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Unfortunately I'm busier than ever, and my patients, increasingly, are women. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 600,000 people each year, half of them women. And yet many women — and their health care providers — still believe heart disease is less serious in women than in men. This is simply not true. Studies show that more women than men die within a year of having a first heart attack (26 percent of women 45 or older versus 19 percent of men); women are two to three times more likely than men to die following heart-bypass surgery, and more women than men die each year from congestive heart failure.

I was recently talking with Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She believes women may suffer from a completely different type of heart disease than men, one in which the arteries are unable to dilate and can spasm closed. This dysfunction occurs in up to half of all heart disease cases in middle-aged women with open coronary arteries, she has found, and may explain why many women go undiagnosed, since a lack of plaque buildup makes the condition harder for doctors to detect.

While new programs will help increase physician and public awareness, you need to take charge of your own heart health. By midlife (ages 40 to 60) almost one third of women have two or more modifiable risk factors — obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol — quadrupling their risk of developing heart disease.

So how can you improve your heart health? Eat a healthy diet, take a 30-minute walk every day and reduce stress. Start taking care of your heart today, so you never end up on my operating room table.

You may also like: Eat for a healthy heart.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is a cardiothoracic surgeon and the host of The Dr. Oz Show.

related video

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at JCPenney Optical.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

AngiesList

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.