For decades, Mieres said, too many American women considered cardiovascular disease a "man's illness." But that's far from the truth.
"Heart disease claims the life of one in three American women, and it's ahead of any of the other causes of death, including breast cancer and all cancers combined," said Mieres, a cardiologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y. Since 1984, more women have died each year from heart disease than men, she said, and with rising obesity rates heart trouble is now hitting women at a younger age than ever before.
"As the waistlines of women in the United States have increased, heart disease, instead of occurring in the menopause years, has been pushed back and we're now seeing it in women in their 30s and 40s," Mieres said. "And unfortunately in that age group the first sign of heart disease can be sudden death."
Those are sobering facts until you realize that "80 percent of heart disease can be prevented," she said. And prevention needn't be difficult: 10 to 30 minutes of exercise a day, avoiding smoking, eating healthy (more fruits and vegetables, less fat), getting regular checkups to know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and informing your doctor of any family history is all it takes, Mieres said.
Family history was a key motivator for another star gracing the catwalk on Wednesday night.
"For me [heart health] is huge -- my father died of a heart attack and my mom had a stroke, and I feel that it's so important," said Dallas star Linda Gray, 70, wearing a Pamella Roland gown. "Tonight, it's all about education -- let's find out how we can take care of that beautiful heart that we all have. An event like this really makes people pay attention."
Still, more work needs to be done. According to The Heart Truth campaign, nearly half of women still don't know that heart disease is their number one killer
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