Women’s Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. Creating a lifestyle that is protective of your heart can help reduce your risk for heart disease. The four most important habits for a healthy heart are:
Eating a nutritious diet
Participating in regular physical activity
Maintaining a healthy weight
However, in the U.S., only three percent of adults practice these four heart-healthy habits. Take steps to improve your heart health by educating your friends, family, and co-workers about how they too can prevent heart disease.
Eat a nutritious diet
When filling your plate, consider these dietary guidelines for Americans.
Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, and milk products.
Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and sodium, and added sugars.
Foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can help prevent high cholesterol and improve heart health.
Limiting salt in your diet can lower blood pressure.
Limiting sugar can lower blood sugar levels and help prevent or control diabetes.
Be mindful of your calorie intake
Limit your alcohol consumption.
The suggested limit is no more than one drink per day for women.
Engage in regular physical activity
Physical activity can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Exercise also helps adults and children maintain a healthy weight. As always, please be sure to consult with a doctor or other health care provider before beginning any exercise regimen.
The Surgeon General of the U.S. recommends the following dose of exercise:
Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.
Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Muscle-strengthening activities are also typically recommended two days a week for optimum health.
Lifting light weights
Working with resistance bands
Gardening, such as digging and shoveling
Yoga and other weight-bearing exercises using bodyweight only
Take advantage of some everyday opportunities to get moving.
Park far away from work or a store and walk.
When traveling, walk around the airport, train, bus, or subway station instead of sitting and waiting.
Lift weights, do some gentle yoga, walk on a treadmill, or use an exercise bike while watching TV.
Take a brisk mid-day walk for a movement break.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. The extra weight on your body puts added stress on your heart and blood vessels.
The steps for maintaining a healthy weight are the same as those to improve your heart health; exercise, eat a heart-healthy diet, limit alcohol intake, and quit smoking.
Be sure to talk with your doctor or health care professional about the safest and most effective way you can achieve the healthiest weight for you.
Cigarette smoking increases your risk for heart disease while, quitting lowers your risk.
One year after you quit smoking, your heart disease risk drops by more than half.
Several years after you quit smoking, your heart disease risk will decrease to levels close to those of non-smokers.
Talk with your doctor or health care professional for suggestions on safe ways to quit smoking.
Take charge of your health
Check your cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol levels are checked at your annual physical by your doctor. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your cholesterol levels may need to be checked more frequently.
Check your blood pressure.
High blood pressure typically has no symptoms making it important to check blood pressure at least once every one to two years.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it will need to be checked more often.
Prevent or manage your diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor should carefully monitor your blood sugar levels.
Manage your stress levels.
Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to the news.
Find activities that help you unwind and make them a part of your daily routine.
Talk with people you trust about any stress or negative feelings you may be having.
Your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk for diabetes are checked as part of your annual physical. Make sure to schedule this preventive wellness visit annually to measure and track your risk over time.
Consult with a health care provider for guidance on the best ways you can make lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risks for heart disease and improve your heart health. Eat a nutritious diet, engage in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, and take charge of your health.