By Lori Cipolla
One in four women in the US die of Heart disease. In 2004 roughly 60% of women died from both heart disease and stroke than all cancer forms combined. The question to ask is what can we do to prevent heart disease. It is important for women to take prevention steps such as the following :
- Be aware of your blood pressure: One with high blood pressure can have no symptoms so it would be beneficial to have a system in place to regularly check your blood pressure a couple times a years. Truth be told, women are more likely to have HBP then men after the onset of menopause beginning around 65 years old.
- Check your glucose: high glucose levels can be diabetes. You can also have no symptoms with this therefore it is important to have this checked reguraly as well. Diabetes will increase your chances of heart disease. According to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the association’s journal Circulation, women with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely then men to have coronary heart disease.
- No Smoking ! – If your a non-smoker great but if you do smoke , quit. There are several products and programs that can assist you in quitting. Rhode Island Department of Health provides a website to provide assistance in quitting and additional resources to help as well http://www.quitnowri.com . Smoking in itself increases your chances of heart disease but it also increases other risk factors such as high blood pressure. According to research, when you stop smoking you can cut the risk of heart disease and stroke by half injust one year.
- Know your Cholesterol & triglyceride levels : High levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) or elevated levels triglycerides (type of fat which is necessary for proper cell function but too much is unhealthy) . This also can go without symptoms and should be checked reguraly by your physician. One or both of these being elevated will increase your risk for heart disease. Elevated LDL ( bad cholesterol ) can lead to buildup and blockage in the arteries. Things that effect your cholesterol levels that you can do something about are weight , diet and physical activity. There are also things that can affect your cholesterol that you can not do anything about such as , heredity (your genes) , age and gender. This is why you should see a physician yearly to have a proffesional advise you on options to help.
- coping with stress: finding healthy ways to cope and manage stress . Chronic Stress can lead to increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol. There are also studies linking stress to changes in the way your blood clots . This could potentially increase risk of heart attack.
- Maintain healthy weight : Maintaining a healthy weight is important to a heart healthy body. It also helps to keep diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol at bay . Opt for whole foods over processed foods. Include whole grains, vegetables and fruits along with lean sources of protein. Be mindful of sodium intake. Aim for 3 hours a week of moderate physical activity. To get a general idea of where your weight falls , you can use a BMI calculator such as : http://www.calculator.net/bmi-calculator.html
For a woman , there are additional factors that can pose an increase risk for disease . The birth control pill is generally safe for young non smoking women however check with your doctor. Women over 35 can be more at risk especially those that smoke or already have other risk factors such as high blood pressure. Another factor is women under going menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). This type of therapy can increase risk factors of heart disease. Talk with your physician if you decide that MHT is for you. You may choose to be on lowest dose for shortest amount of time.
If you are interested in additional information for Women and Heart Disease , you can go to Amerian Heart Association at https://www.goredforwomen.org.
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