Women, do you know that cardiovascular disease, not cancer, is our genders #1 killer? It kills women 10x more than breast cancer, taking the lives of one in three women.
We tend to think of heart disease as a male issue and fail to see the risk factors in ourselves. There are many diseases in this category, including coronary artery disease (which includes heart attacks), strokes, and heart failure. You can actively pursue a proper body weight, deal with high blood pressure and high cholesterol through nutrition and exercise, take medications that are proper, understand the risk of Hormone Replacement Therapy, and deal with stress effectively. Do you know your specific risk factors and preventative measures?
Your part in preventing heart disease is changing your lifestyle. You can’t control genetics, but you can control other obvious culprits like obesity.
*Don’t smoke! It’s the worst thing you can do to your heart. Smoking AND taking birth control pills will raise your risk factor even higher.
*Know your blood pressure! Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for both heart attacks and strokes. You know the drill- change your diet, lose weight, exercise regularly and if necessary, take medication.
*Know your cholesterol levels! If you are at risk, get tested annually, and again, change your diet, exercise regularly, and get down to a proper body weight.
*Know your blood sugar levels! Even pre-diabetes in women can be bad news for the heart. Be careful to control your blood sugar levels as naturally as possible.
*Eat a heart healthy diet! Here we go again! Fresh vegetables and fruits, beans, whole grains, dairy products, cold water oily fish, lean meats, nuts, avocados, seeds- these are the good guys. Bad guys show up in processed, refined, sugary, highly salted, high simple carbohydrate and fried foods and should be avoided. 1,500 mg of salt per day is recommended for those over 50, plus those with hypertension, kidney disease, or diabetes. All others, 2,3300 mg a day.
*Drink in moderation! No more than 5 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80 proof liquor, or 12 oz of beer per day- (I personally recommend cutting back to 3 days a week.)
*Know your family history! If it’s in your family, your risk is substantially higher.
*Deal with depression and reduce stress! Chronic unhappiness and feeling out of control and miserable increases your level of anxiety and heart attack risk.
Do you know the signs of a heart attack in women?
*Chest discomfort, pain, squeezing, burning, or mild to severe pressure in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes
*Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
*Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
*Dizziness, light headedness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, cold sweats
*Feelings of anxiety, fatigue, or weakness- unexplained or on exertion
If symptoms are present in you or someone else, take ACTION!
*Call 911 within 5 minutes of the symptoms starting. If the symptoms stop, call your doctor and tell them what you are experiencing.
*Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Call on ambulance or get a ride! Upon arrival, make it clear that you are having heart attack symptoms. Don’t be shy!
*Chew and swallow an aspirin with water immediately to prevent blood clotting.
Have a heart- a HEALTHY heart!
Heart-y Spring Joy to YOU! Nancy