Heart Group Upgrades Risks, Tips for Women

The American Heart Association issues new guidelines for cutting heart disease and stroke risks in women. Medical evidence shows more U.S. women at risk of heart disease and stroke than had been thought.

Even healthy women should cut back on fat and get 30 minutes of exercise a day, according to the guide. And, it says that while some women may be advised to take daily aspirin, they should only do so after consulting a doctor, due to ulcer risks.

The biggest shift in the Heart Association's recommendations may be that women need to think about reducing their risk when they're young.

For years, the Heart Association has urged men and women who've already had a heart attack — or those at very high risk of one — to take a daily low-dose aspirin tablet. But it recommended aspirin to prevent a first heart attack only for healthy men over age 45.

Now experts urge many more women and their doctors to consider a daily dose of baby aspirin. But nobody who is at risk of stomach bleeding or uncontrolled blood pressure should take daily aspirin, doctors say.

The Heart Association tells women not to bother taking many dietary supplements touted for preventing heart disease, such as folic acid and vitamins E, C and beta carotene. There is no good evidence that they work, the group says.

But women should eat fish at least twice a week, the guide says. And women who've been diagnosed with heart disease should consider a daily capsule of omega-3 fatty acids like the ones found in oily fish.

The guidelines raise the bar on how much exercise women should get to lose weight or sustain weight loss: an hour to an hour-and-a-half of brisk walking or other moderate activity on most days.

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