Why is heart disease in the news?According to new research, 2 in 3 women (65%) don't know that heart disease is the main cause of death among females.
What else did they discover?More than 3 in 4 women (78%) don't know that they are more likely to suffer from heart disease after they've gone through the menopause and around half (47%) think that lower oestrogen levels helped or had no effect on cholesterol levels.
So what's the truth?Lower oestrogen levels actually tend to cause an increase in the levels of cholesterol in the blood and 88% of women aged 55-64 have high levels. Well over half of women don't know that high cholesterol is one of the main causes of heart disease either.
How many women does this affect?Heart disease is the cause of 275 deaths in the UK every day, according to the British Heart Foundation. Women's health expert Dr Rosemary Leonard says: 'Many women wrongly believe that men are more prone to high cholesterol, when in fact, women over the age of 55 have a high cholesterol level than men of the same age.'
So what should women be doing to prevent heart disease?First thing to do is get your cholesterol checked. Benecol, who organised the new research, will be touring shopping centres in Bristol, Oxford, Birmingham and Leeds during June and offering free cholesterol checks and advice.
Many NHS GP surgeries also now hold 'well-person clinics'. These are often run by a practice nurse and may include a height and weight check, blood pressure test, cholesterol test and a urine sample test to look for kidney disease or diabetes.
What if I have high cholesterol levels?There are three main things to do to help reduce your cholesterol and make your heart happy.
- Change your diet: reduce your salt and fat intake and increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat
- Take exercise : only 1 in 4 women in the UK get the exercise their body needs every week
- Stop smoking: Cigarettes cause around 1 in 3 heart attacks and can increase your risk of getting heart disease by up to 80%
- Last week's big issue: How to stop a third of cancer cases
More help and advice- Find out more about heart disease
- Get the facts about cholesterol
- Advice on how to lower your cholesterol
- Get tips on giving up smoking with our Stop Smoking Clinic
- Try our easy exercise tips