Preventing Heart Disease in Women

Heart Disease Prevention

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. In fact, one in every four women in the US will die of heart disease. While many may have heard of heart disease and these dismal statistics, there is a host of information that goes unnoticed. For example, there are several types of heart disease, including Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD), and stress-induced cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome. 

Any of these conditions can cause a variety of health problems and have the potential of causing a heart attack. Although men and women typically experience a different set of symptoms during a heart attack, the most commonly known heart attack symptoms are those experienced by men, leaving many women without important knowledge that may save their lives. Symptoms experienced by women may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue, tiredness, or issues sleeping
  • Chest pain or discomfort. Pain may be intermittent, occurring in either the left side or the center of the chest. Discomfort may feel like pressure, fullness, or squeezing.
  • Discomfort or pain in other areas of the body like the upper part of the stomach, one or both arms, neck, jaw, and back.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911. The earlier you’re treated, the less damage will result. Of course, the best way to minimize damage to your heart is through proactive prevention methods. By limiting your risk of developing heart disease, you also limit your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

How to Minimize Your Risks of Heart Disease

1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

One of the main components of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is choosing a diet that is beneficial for your body. Several studies have outlined foods that constitute a heart-healthy diet. These “heart-healthy diets” include foods rich in whole grains, yet low in fat. They focus on fruits, vegetables, and protein sources; legumes, lean meats, poultry without skin, and seafood. Those following a heart-healthy diet plan will want to avoid foods with trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, and high amounts of sodium.

In addition to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, you should also cut unhealthy habits like smoking. Smoking can double your chances of developing heart disease. If you currently smoke, find resources to help you quit and stay clean. If you’re currently exposed to someone else’s second-hand smoke, think of ways to reduce your exposure to it, as second-hand smoke also increases your chances of developing heart disease.

2. Get Regular Exercise

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends either 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination every week. That’s only 15-30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. If you’re not sure where to start, there are many resources available online to build a workout plan that works for you. You can start anywhere; moderate exercise can consist of walking, yard work, dancing, etc.

A good rule of thumb for those just starting out in fitness is to incorporate movement into your daily life. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Use a standing desk at work or park your car further away from your destination. Sometimes having an exercise partner can help motivate you and keep you on track. If you’ve never exercised before, talk to your doctor about the best and safest way to start a new regimen.

3. Talk to Your Doctor About Prevention

The American Heart Association recommends women combat risks of heart disease more aggressively than most men. For women over 65, that may mean taking a daily dose of aspirin. A doctor may recommend this if your blood pressure is controlled and you’re not at risk for digestive bleeding. This daily dose of Aspirin is typically not recommended for women under the age of 65 but may be if you’re considered “at risk”. You should not take Aspirin, or any other medication, if it has not been prescribed or recommended by your physician.

4. Depression and Stress

Depression, stress, and anger all have an effect on your body, some of which can directly affect your heart. Stress’s effect on your body is especially compounded if combined with other risk factors, like unhealthy eating or a sedentary lifestyle. If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, seek medical attention. A doctor can recommend therapy, medication, or other coping mechanisms like meditation or anger management. Mental health is as crucial to your body as physical health.

5. Know Your History

Your family history of heart disease, stroke, and other medical conditions may provide insight into your own risk of developing different medical conditions. If anyone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with heart disease or has suffered a stroke, you’re statistically more likely to also have heart disease. Other conditions like anemia, sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia may also increase your risk of developing heart disease. By knowing and understanding your family history, you can combat genetic risk factors with medication and other lifestyle changes.

If you’re ready to make some changes for the health of your heart, reach out to the team at Capital Women’s Care. Our team can guide you through the steps to make heart-healthy choices to protect you and your family.

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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