February is American Heart Month—a reminder to take care of your heart and body and to understand what raises the risk of developing heart disease. For women in the United States, heart disease is the most common cause of death, killing almost 1 in 4 women.
What about if you or a loved one has uterine fibroids or is at risk of developing fibroids? Does that increase the risk for also developing heart disease? While the consensus in the medical community is not clear, fibroids and cardiovascular disease are connected in some ways.
Know the Risk Factors for Fibroids and Heart Disease
Recent studies do not necessarily show a direct link between having fibroids and developing heart disease; however, many of the same factors that cause heart disease also lead to uterine fibroids in women. In addition, women with fibroids tend to have more risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
Some of these risk factors include:
- Overweight and obesity
- Diet high in red meat
- Lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
Certain risk factors, such as being overweight and having high blood pressure, can lead to thickening of the arteries. Studies have also shown that women with fibroids have thicker arteries compared to women who don’t have fibroids. Thicker arteries mean there is less space for the blood to flow to vital organs which increases the chance of a heart attack or stroke.
Women with uterine fibroids also seem to have lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which is known to protect the heart from heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association considers both thickened arteries and low HDL cholesterol levels as risk factors for heart disease.
Lower the Risk of Heart Disease and Fibroids
Having a higher risk for heart disease and/or fibroids doesn’t mean you can’t change some habits to decrease your chance of developing these conditions. Whereas some risk factors are out of your hands, such as age and race, lifestyle changes can help you lead a healthier life while lowering your chance of developing fibroids and heart disease.
Some things that decrease your risk include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight for you
- Controlling your blood pressure, either with diet and lifestyle or with medication
- Managing stress levels
- Exercising regularly, such walking, dancing or swimming.
- Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits
Make an Appointment with Fibroid Institute Dallas
Has your doctor diagnosed you with fibroids or you think you may have fibroids? Dr. Slonim and her team at Fibroid Institute Dallas are experts at diagnosing and treating fibroids without surgery. Our number one patient-preferred treatment option is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), the gold standard in non-surgical fibroid treatment.
We’re here to help. Call us at 214-838-6440 for questions about fibroids or if you would like to know if UFE is right for you. To request an appointment online, go to our appointment scheduler.