Living heart-healthy starts here.
One in every four deaths of women is caused by heart disease, making it the leading cause of death among women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Read on to find out our top tips to keep your heart in tip-top shape.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
First, it is important to identify the symptoms of heart disease. According to the CDC, these symptoms may include a heart attack (including chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath); arrhythmia (fluttering feelings in the chest); heart failure (shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling); and/or stroke (sudden weakness or paralysis).
Women with a higher risk of developing heart disease may have medical conditions like diabetes and obesity and may make certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, having a poor diet or being physically inactive. Making just a few adjustments to counteract or reverse these risk factors, you can lower your chances of developing heart disease. Check cholesterol, monitor blood pressure, manage diabetes, take prescription medication as advised, and speak regularly with your health care provider.
According to Dr. Mark DelBello, an internist in Fort Wayne, the most important thing women can do for themselves is exercise and maintain a healthy weight. “Exercise improves heart stamina and helps us maintain muscle mass, something we lose as we get older,” he explained. “Even if you are not able to truly exercise, simply being active can be beneficial.”
Dr. DelBello also emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and thereby, a healthy weight. He suggested looking at your genetics to determine if you have a greater chance of being overweight. “When I see a patient whose parents are heavy, there’s a much greater chance of the patient being heavy,” he said. “The best advice I can give is to exercise and lose weight.”
In addition to eating right, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, Dr. DelBello advised women to see their doctor once a year, not smoke and to not drink excessively. All of these can help prevent heart disease and keep your heart as healthy as possible.
Dr. Michele Helfgott of PPG Integrative Medicine agrees that simple lifestyle adjustments can make a big difference. “Women should get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly,” she advised. “It’s also important for women to manage stress.”
Top Tips for a Healthy Heart
- Follow a healthy diet. – Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less saturated fat.
- Maintain a healthy weight. – Lose weight if necessary, and try to maintain it.
- Exercise regularly. – It can be as simple as daily walking or as complex as fitness boot camps. Look for activities you can do for years to come.
- Don’t smoke. – Enough said.
- Limit alcohol. – Drinking in moderation can be beneficial in small amounts, but don’t consume too much.
- Manage stress. – Stress can affect the heart as well as the psyche. Explore relaxation techniques.
- Get enough sleep. – Make sure your body gets enough rest each night
to recharge itself.