DEAR DOCTOR K: For years I thought I was at lower risk for heart disease than men because I was a woman. Now I know better. I'd like to take steps to reduce my chances of developing it. What can I do?
DEAR READER: Heart disease has carried a reputation as a "man's disease" for years. But it is not now -- nor was it ever -- a disease that mainly targets men. In fact, these days more women die each year of cardiovascular disease than men. (Cardiovascular disease refers to heart disease, stroke and related blood vessel conditions.) Like you, a lot of my patients don't think of heart disease as a problem for women. Here's a pop quiz: Are women more likely to die of breast cancer or heart disease? The answer: More women die of heart disease each year in the United States than from all types of cancer combined. That includes breast, ovarian and cervical cancer, plus lung, stomach and colon cancer, plus leukemias, lymphomas and melanoma -- all types of cancer.