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Cardiologist Promotes Awareness, Education During Heart Month
02/07/2014

FORT WORTH, Texas — Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States — claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. This toll includes an average of 64 women in Texas every day.

Dr. Nina Asrani
Dr. Nina Asrani

So during American Heart Month in February, the American Heart Association (AHA) and its Go Red For Women movement urge everyone to support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red on Feb. 7, National Wear Red Day.

“It's critically important for women to realize that heart disease can happen to them, and that everyday choices about diet and fitness make a difference,” said Dr. Nina Asrani, a cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle and at Consultants in Cardiology, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “Women can help themselves by living healthy, active lifestyles, maintaining a healthy diet and working alongside their physician.”

Women have a higher risk for heart disease because they’re less likely to suspect heart disease in themselves — and often dismiss symptoms. Women also may have symptoms that are less specific — feeling tired or short of breath, aching in their arms or jaws — and attribute these to other causes.

While basic risk factors for heart disease are generally the same between men and women — hypertension, high cholesterol, family history, smoking and diabetes — since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and stroke, and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen, according to the AHA.

“Symptoms of cardiovascular disease may not be noticeable until the disease is advanced,” Asrani said. “That’s why it’s important to have routine screenings to check for heart disease, even if you think you’re not at risk.”

It’s essential for women to know their family history, particularly the heart health of their parents and siblings, to lower their risk of heart disease and diabetes. Women with diabetes are three and a half times more like to die from heart disease than women who don’t have diabetes — almost twice the relative risk for fatal heart disease in men with diabetes compared to those without.

“It’s important to assess your overall risk of heart disease, as that determines how aggressively risk factors like high cholesterol should be treated,” she said. “Controlling diabetes cannot be overemphasized, especially in women. It’s a giant risk factor.”

For more information, visit TexasHealth.org/Heart.

The American Heart Association recommends that patients know and manage their critical health numbers, which can include developing a plan with their physician that may include diet, exercise and medication.

  • Blood pressure — A number over 140/90 is generally considered hypertension, and may warrant medications.
  • Cholesterol — A routine fasting blood test can tell you your cholesterol. You want a low LDL (lousy cholesterol), and a higher HDL (healthy cholesterol). This should be discussed with your doctor, who can advise on diet and medications if needed.
  • Blood sugar — An elevated fasting blood sugar will diagnose diabetes.
  • Weight — Know your body-mass index and your waist circumference, as carrying extra weight in your belly confers a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Get moving — The recommendation is 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise a week, but any little amount of extra activity helps. Studies show that the more you exercise, the less likely you are to die of heart disease, regardless of whether it helps you lose weight.

— Dr. Nina Asrani

About Texas Health Physicians Group
Texas Health Physicians Group is Texas Health Resources’ nonprofit physician organization based in Arlington. The group includes more than 800 physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and medical professionals dedicated to providing safe, quality care for our patients. In addition to our primary and specialty practices, the organization’s network includes sleep lab services, infusion services, and diagnostic imaging in more than 230 locations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Johnson, Parker and Tarrant counties.

Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is 726-bed, Magnet-designated regional referral center that has served the residents of Tarrant County since 1930. The hospital’s services include cardiovascular services, high-risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatal intensive care, and trauma/emergency medicine. Texas Health Fort Worth is also home to the 100-bed Texas Health Harris Methodist Heart Center. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Fort Worth has more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and nearly 1,000 physicians practicing on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/FortWorth.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle has served Azle, Springtown, Lake Worth and greater northwest Tarrant and Parker Counties since 1954. The hospital’s services include cardiology, orthopedics, imaging and rehabilitation. Texas Health Azle is an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL or visit TexasHealth.org/Azle.

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