A long-standing myth is that heart disease is a mostly male domain. But in 2004, heart disease killed more women than men. The American Heart Association's Complete Guide to Women's Heart Health (Potter, $26) offers gender-specific information and advice to avoid this chronic condition.
Heart disease is largely preventable through proper diet, exercise and weight control. If a woman can reach middle age without developing major risk factors -- high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes -- she has only an 8 percent risk of developing cardiovascular disease. With two or more of those risk factors, the lifetime probability rises to 50 percent.
Research shows that the majority of women's heart attacks occur about 10 years after menopause, and the overall risk is equal for both genders after 60 years old. The good news is that women respond better than men to the effects of lifestyle changes.
The book offers age-specific advice, with a chapter for every decade of a woman's life from her 20s to her 70s. Its explanation of the cardiovascular system is extremely easy to follow, and appendices are stocked with useful resources.