If I were to take a survey of what women’s health issue my readers fear most, the response would probably be breast cancer. That’s why I report on the topic often, and that’s why I’m sure many of you are vigilant about getting mammograms. But while breast cancer can be scary, it’s actually not the number-one killer of women in the U.S. That dubious honor goes to heart disease.
Unfortunately, even though heart disease is more deadly, few of us put the same level of effort into making sure we’re screened for it that we do for breast cancer. But what if I told you that you could be screened for heart-disease risk and you wouldn’t have to make one more appointment? In fact, you wouldn’t have to spend a second longer in the doctor’s office than you already do.
If this sounds too good to be true, it isn’t – as long as you’re faithfully getting your mammograms done. That’s because research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session has found a link between cardiovascular disease risk and the level of arterial calcification in the breasts.
For years, coronary arterial calcification (CAC) has served as a warning sign for cardiovascular disease. Certain other factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can indicate that you’re likely to have CAC. This research has discovered that breast arterial calcification is also an indicator of CAC. And this calcification shows up on a mammogram. In one study, researchers found that 70% of the women who had breast arterial calcification also had CAC. This percentage went up as the women got younger.
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Another study found that around half of women under 60 with CAC also had breast arterial calcification. This is an important finding because many women under 60 haven’t given heart disease any thought – but they are worried about breast cancer. Identifying this red flag thanks to a mammogram can give women the opportunity to reverse or slow the damage to their cardiovascular systems before it’s too late.
If you’re interested in being screened for breast arterial calcification during your mammogram, talk to your doctor about the process. I hope that this will become standard practice as more and more practitioners become aware of this option, but right now it isn’t, so you’ll need to ask about it. And make sure your office uses digital mammography (most do), as this system is better able to identify calcifications. If any show up, you’ll want to discuss your cardiovascular health with your doctor right away. Your annual mammogram could save your life in more ways than one.
You’ll also want to do everything you can to help take care of your breasts and your heart. One way to do that is with nutrients that benefit both areas of your body. Ultimate Breast Support has nutrients proven to support breast health. And many of these nutrients are protective for your heart as well. These include zinc, selenium, turmeric, and even ginger (which can lower cholesterol and help prevent blood clots).
Better Health and Living for Women,