TUESDAY, Nov. 11, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Some safe and simple tests could help doctors identify and possibly prevent heart disease in middle-age women.
University of Pittsburgh researchers presented this finding Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.
"Most women gain 1 to 2 pounds per year as they approach and go through menopause, and a percentage of them will go on to develop heart disease as a result," researcher Dr. Lewis H. Kuller, a professor of epidemiology at the university's School of Public Health, says in a prepared statement.
"Keeping one's waist circumference from expanding is a good way to avoid a negative outcome, but more targeted monitoring of other predictors, such as insulin, adiponectin and coronary calcium, can give a more accurate indication of when a woman is entering the danger zone," Kuller says.
He and his colleagues found a few simple tests can be used to monitor women and warn doctors when they need to take action to prevent a heart attack.
Insulin resistance can be measured by testing blood levels of insulin, glucose and adiponectin -- a type of fat-storing cell. Blood samples can also be used to measure levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, which can lead to the development of coronary calcium deposits.
Coronary calcium deposits can be detected using electron beam tomography, a quick and non-invasive scan.
"There are very effective therapies, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, to prevent the progression of insulin resistance, the development of small and numerous LDL particles and, potentially, the progression of atherosclerosis," Kuller says.
He and his colleagues are currently testing these interventions.
Here's where women can learn more about how to prevent heart disease.