What Women Can Do To Improve Heart Health

by Dr Jonathan D'Souza
For many years, heart disease was commonly thought to be a ‘man’s disease’. But statistics suggest that around the same number of men and women die of heart disease in the US every year. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

Heart disease that is undiagnosed or not managed can lead to heart attack and stroke. Nearly 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually. About 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks (six times more than breast cancer) and about three million women die from stroke each year.

Worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, which is a third of all deaths in women.

What Is The Possible Cause For The Rise Of Heart Disease In Women?
1) Modern day lifestyle has made us sedentary. Diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, lack of sleep, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of heart disease.

2) A decline in estrogen levels that follows the onset of menopause can also increase the risk of heart disease in women. Estrogen is believed to have a protective effect on the heart and keeps the blood vessels flexible.

3) High blood pressure and high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Disease In Women?
1. Recurrent indigestion, heartburn, extreme fatigue, upper back pain, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting could be the initial signs of a heart attack.

2. Feeling fluttering in the chest due to abnormal heart beats.

3. Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs and abdomen and shortness of breath can be the cause of heart failure.

4. Paralysis (inability to move), a feeling of numbness in the face, arms, legs, and sudden weakness,
confusion, dizziness, loss of consciousness, loss of balance, a sudden or a severe headache can lead to a stroke.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Heart Health?
Learn the ABCs of a healthy heart.

1. Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it.
2. Blood pressure control.
3. Cholesterol management.
4. Smoking cessation.

Include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Opt for foods that are low in saturated fats, salt (sodium), cholesterol, and added sugars.

Exercising for 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes) spaced out through the week can decrease your risk for heart disease.

Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Binging on alcohol can lead to long-term health problems such as cancer and heart disease. Women and men are advised not to have more than one drink a day. If you are pregnant, do not drink at all.

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