Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger

When Judy Beigi found out she had high cholesterol, she knew she had some changes to make. "I had to agree to exercise, to start exercising," says Beigi.

She also follows a strict diet. It's all part of an effort to lower her risk of heart disease. Dr. Lewis Kuller says women Judy's age are at an especially high risk for heart problems.

"Women gain a lot of weight through the menopause, and we showed that this was a very detrimental factor," Kuller explains.

In fact, Dr. Kuller says when waist circumference gets over 34, their risk for heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer rises substantially. But there is good news. Technology, like this EBCT scan, helps women monitor their risk of disease.

Dr. Kuller says, "We can actually tell a woman, at age 50 or 55, you have this much calcium deposits in your arteries, you've got to be fairly aggressive in changing your risk factors."

But even the best technology can't prevent heart disease. "In spite of all the efforts over the last 10 or 15 or 20 years, it's still basically don't smoke, keep your weight down, exercise, low saturated fat diet, and cholesterol diet," states Dr. Kuller.

Advice Judy takes to heart. Since participating in Dr. Kuller's study, she's lost more than 30 pounds. "I have a new pattern of eating," Judy says. "This is the best way to do it, to prevent heart disease."

And she's taking the right steps to do just that.

Dr. Kuller says it's never too late for women to reduce their risk factors for heart disease. He says it's the excess fat in the abdomen that causes insulin resistance, which contributes to the risk of heart disease and diabetes.