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Women’s Heart Health, with Dr. George Thanassoulis

Dr. George Thanassoulis, Director of Preventive and Genomic Cardiology at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), sits down for an informative chat in light of The Women’s Heart Health Symposium on Thursday October 31, 2019, presented by the MUHC in collaboration with the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative and the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

How do you measure a healthy heart?

One of the things we do differently at the MUHC is that we have a long-standing interest in Lipoprotein testing – for short, ApoB. ApoB really tells us how many particles of lipid you have in your blood. Today, we know that that’s actually a better marker for your risk of heart disease than the usual cholesterol measurements that are being done.

An emerging area in Lipoprotein testing is LP (a). This is a genetic type of cholesterol that most people don’t screen for; most people don’t know they have an elevation in this type of cholesterol. It does lead to heart attacks. At the MUHC, we measure LP(a) routinely.

Do women have a lower risk for heart disease?

Right now, the way we decide who gets treated for heart disease is by calculating one’s level of risk. In these calculations, the sheer fact of being a woman reduces your risk. This is a problem. Women can have high cholesterol, but not receive treatment because they’ve been calculated as ‘low risk’ for heart disease.

We’ve developed an approach where we focus on the benefit of treatment rather than the level of risk. By using a benefit-based approach, we treat younger patients in general, and also more women. Many people world-wide are now interested in this approach because they see the value.

How can I take better care of my heart?

There’s a whole number of lifestyle changes that people can make when they know their ApoB or LP(a) levels are high. Getting more physical activity, for example, which can be as simple as walking. Diet is a huge controversy right now in cardiovascular medicine. What is the best diet? Maybe we’ll talk about that at the symposium…

The Women’s Heart Health Symposium is just one of many ways our cardiology experts demonstrate their passion for innovation and education.