Heart Disease: How Can You Protect Yourself?

Would you be willing to make changes in your lifestyle to reduce your chances of heart disease?  — cross-posted to BlogHer Health & Wellness

February is National Heart Health Month…During this month we try to bring awareness to the symptoms and prevention of heart disease.  Although many forms of heart disease are preventable, it continues to be the leading cause of death in women.   According to the American Heart Association, each year nearly half a million women die of heart disease.

The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age.  Even though you can’t do much about your family history or your age, you can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors. Here is a list of what doctors recommend:

Don’t smoke.  Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.

Control your blood pressure.  Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.

Control your cholesterol level.  If you don’t know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.

Exercise regularly.  Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Eat a low-fat diet.  Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.

From Super Healthy Kids – National Wear Red Day

Heart disease is largely preventable. In fact, 80 percent of cardiac events in women may be prevented if women make the right choices for their hearts, involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

From Wendy at The Menopause Blog – Are You Fit or Just Acceptable?

Do you know that you don’t have to be overweight to have too much body fat? You can weigh in at what you think is your ideal range and normal body size, but still be considered obese and thus, at risk for future heart problems. This phenomenon of “normal weight obesity” is the focus of a report by the Mayo Clinic, whose authors estimate that as many as 30 million Americans fall into this category.

From California NOW – Wear Red Today & Fight the #1 Killer of American Women…

One woman dies every minute from cardiovascular disease (CVD) — more than the combined deaths from all cancers, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and accidents. 42 million women are currently living with heart disease in the United States.

It’s important for women to understand that symptoms of a heart attack are often different in women than in men.  Here is a video of two women discussing the onset of their heart attacks…

The Mayo Clinic has a list of specific lifestyle changes we can all make to help prevent coronary artery disease.  They also suggest…

In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, remember the importance of regular medical checkups. Some of the main risk factors for coronary artery disease — high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — have no symptoms in the early stages. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health.

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1 comment for “Heart Disease: How Can You Protect Yourself?

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