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How Women Can Avoid Heart Disease

Because women have a harder time dealing with heart disease -- especially once they reach age 60 -- I'm not surprised at all to read about new guidelines issued this week by the American Heart Association.

These new recommendations come at a time when scientists estimate some 38 million American women -- more than a third of all females -- are living with heart disease, and a growing number of health care professionals are coming around to the opinion they should be preventing and treating conditions that may happen over the course of a patient's lifetime, and not just until the next diagnosis.

Besides the many safe and effective lifestyle changes women can make to reduce their risks of heart problems, it's also important to remind you the primary reason older women die from heart disease: After menopause, women stop menstruating and begin gaining excess iron.

A simple blood test that measures ferritin levels can determine if a patient's iron levels are dangerously elevated. I screen all patients at my clinic for it and have found a large number of people have dangerous levels.

The safest and most optimal way to eliminate any problems with iron: Donating your blood from 1-6 times a year, depending on the amount of iron in your system.

Circulation February 19, 2007 Free Full Text PDF

USA Today February 20, 2007