Dangers of Heart Disease
Interview with Lorna Vanderhaeghe
Interviewed by Raena Morgan
November 12, 2009
Raena Morgan: Lorna, how prevalent is heart disease in America?
Lorna Vanderhaeghe: Well it’s very prevalent. A third of Americans have some type of-
RM: A third?
LV: A third have cardiovascular disease.
RM: That’s alarming.
LV: Last year in the U.S., thirty-four percent of all deaths in women were due to cardiovascular disease, and thirty-two percent of all deaths in men. And when we look at women in particular, so that’s one in three women who are dying of cardiovascular disease. One in thirty women die of breast cancer, yet women know far more about breast cancer-
RM: They do, yes.
LV: -than they would ever know about heart disease.
RM: And yet the heart disease takes more lives.
LV: Absolutely. And, you know, when it comes to heart disease and women, most women don’t know they’re at risk, and we also know that-
RM: That’s right.
LV: -the number one sign of heart disease can often be death. The first sign is that you’ve had a heart attack and you’ve died; you often don’t get a lot of warning signs.
RM: Does it happen after menopause more frequently?
LV: Well this is the thing. We know that women have higher rates of heart disease after menopause, about three times higher risk. Now we actually used to prescribe synthetic hormones, we call it HRT,-
LV: -Premarin and Provera, and we stopped doing that because back in 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative study-
LV: -was halted because they found an increase of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, cancer, so as a result we no longer recommend HRT as a preventive for heart disease, nor a treatment for heart disease, which it used to be used for. But we do now know that it’s really related- heart disease increases in women really after menopause is more related to increased CRP, which is c-reactive protein, a marker in the blood that can tell us that we have inflammation going on in our arteries, and interestingly in women it happens when we have high levels of estrogen or surges and drops in estrogen. So although women think they’re estrogen deficient, they’re actually not estrogen deficient after menopause because otherwise we wouldn’t have such high rates of estrogen related cancers after menopause either.
RM: Well thank you for that information.
LV: You’re welcome.