Thursday, February 08, 2007



Heart disease, ocular health share important common ground in women. “I think we’re all aware that the eye really can be the first manifestation of systemic disease, whether it be cardiovascular disease or other systemic diseases,” Ivana Kim, MD, said.

Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to show arteriolar narrowing with an increased risk for secondary ocular vascular complication and possible vision loss.

“If we saw significant changes suggestive of hypertension, then I would make sure that the patient was aware, first of all, what their blood pressure was, whether or not they had been diagnosed with hypertension,” Dr. Kim said.

“Narrowing of the carotid artery caused by atherosclerotic plaque that can predispose you to stroke can also predispose you to have a blockage of a retinal arteriole, either central or branch, and can lead to vision loss,” Dr. Kim said. “It’s like having a stroke in the eye basically.

Dr. Kim pointed out that cardiovascular disease and AMD have many of the same risk factors and preventive measures. “For a long time we’ve felt there have been similarities between the risk factors for macular degeneration and heart disease,”

"we’re finding that a lot of things that people recommend for lowering your risk of heart disease may also be good for lowering your risk of macular degeneration,” Dr. Kim said.
She added, “Dietary factors, such as intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, also seem beneficial in terms of lowering your risk of macular degeneration.”

“The message that we tell our patients when they ask what can they do to keep their eyes healthy is the same as what their primary care doctors are recommending to keep their heart healthy: Exercise, try to avoid obesity, don’t smoke,” Dr. Kim said. “If you have diabetes, make sure it’s under good control, eat a healthy, balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids.”

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