Page 3 2011 Winter
Research around the world
New heart disease guidelines for the 'real world'
The American Heart Association has published a 2011 update to their cardiovascular disease (CVD) guidelines for women, with a focus on preventing heart disease in the 'real world'.
The guidelines highlight a number of medical conditions that increase a woman's risk of CVD, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension. The guidelines also suggest screening for depression when assessing for CVD risk as this can affect whether a woman follows her doctor's advice.
Jean Hailes Research Director Prof Helena Teede believes that women are still underestimating their CVD risk. "We need to make sure women know that up to 80% of CVD is preventable and that it's the biggest killer of women," says Professor Teede. "It is important to know your numbers: blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as understand other risk factors including past pregnancy complications. Ask your doctor to assess if you're at risk for heart disease so you can take action early."
Work-related communication at home makes women feel guilty
Research from the University of Toronto has found that receiving work-related calls, emails and texts outside of work hours has a stronger negative effect on women compared to men.
The results showed that women were successfully able to juggle their work and home commitments however the contact from work left them feeling guilty and this caused psychological distress.
Jean Hailes psychologist Gillian Needleman said the findings were not surprising. "Although women are often able to juggle the work-life balance, they feel guilty that neither area is receiving their full attention. Women often place unrealistic expectations upon themselves to do things perfectly, and in this case the inability to do so results in feelings of guilt. Women need to acknowledge what they are doing well, rather than focussing on what is not always possible."
Acupuncture and exercise may improve PCOS symptoms
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have irregular menstrual cycles and high levels of male sex hormones (androgens) which can cause acne, excess facial and body hair.
A Swedish study found that acupuncture and physical activity improved hormone levels and menstrual bleeding pattern in women with PCOS. Both treatments reduced testosterone levels and led to more regular menstrual cycles, however acupuncture was more effective.
Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Anju Joham said the results are interesting, but further research is needed. "It was a small study (84 participants) and treatment was only for a short duration (16 weeks)." Anju also stressed that keeping all your health professionals 'in the loop' is very important when managing a complex condition such as PCOS. "A multidisciplinary approach is great but make sure you inform your GP and endocrinologist if you are using any complementary therapies such as acupuncture," she said.
Content updated June 2011