Women’s Heart Smarts

Approximately 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease. These include smoking, diabetes, inactivity, and being overweight. Eighty percent of risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle changes, so having awareness can improve your chances of staying healthy and avoiding heart problems.

Many women are unaware that heart disease is the greatest threat to their health. Heart disease takes more women’s lives annually than every form of cancer combined. Women’s symptoms of heart disease can be more subtle than men’s, and their response to them is often delayed. Women may feel tired or easily fatigued, but they often make excuses about what is happening and dismiss the signs. There are anatomical distinctions as well. Women tend to develop diffuse plaque that usually builds up evenly in their arteries, which are smaller than a man’s. This is significant because it makes it harder for doctors to see a blockage in a woman’s arteries.

The challenge is compounded because women typically wait longer than men to go to the emergency room when they are having a heart attack, and they are less likely than men to present with chest pain and EKG changes. As a result, physicians may be slower to recognize heart attacks in women.

Five Lifestyle Changes to Make Today

for a Healthier Heart

• Get Active - Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking five times a week. Losing as few as 5-10 pounds can have tremendous benefits for your heart.

• Eat Better - Skip the fad diets and aim for new healthier routines, such as adding more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Reduce your sugar intake.

• Manage Blood Pressure - High blood pressure increases the strain on your heart and arteries. Stress can be a huge driver of unhealthy blood pressure. Quiet reflection for 15 minutes a day can help drive down stress levels.

• Stop Smoking - Cigarette smoking damages your entire circulatory system and increases your risk for heart disease.

• Nurture Caring Relationships - Experts say that depression and a lack of social support are risk factors for heart disease.

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