By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: February 10, 2021
“I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.”
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
February is Heart Month. And, there’s a lot we can do to live a heart-healthy life. But first, I’ll bring up some interesting facts about heart disease.
Many women still believe that heart attack and strokes are “men’s” diseases. Unfortunately that is not true. No matter what age, race, or your shape and size, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women in the United States.
As women, our symptoms of a heart attack even may be very different from those of men.
Let’s look at some of these symptoms of a heart attack:
- Women may be less likely than men to experience chest pain. Instead, they are more likely to experience:
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
- Stomach pain
- Women are also more likely than men to have no symptoms of coronary heart disease. Because women and their doctors may not recognize coronary heart disease symptoms that are different from men’s, women may not be diagnosed and treated as quickly as men.
- It is extremely important to seek care right away if you have symptoms of coronary heart disease!
Women may have different symptoms of heart disease than men, but they also have different risk factors.
Some traditional risk factors that we share in common with men which include: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking. However, the difference is the risk factors associated with our reproductive history which affects our risk for developing heart disease. For instance, if you had developed preeclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy that may put you at greater risk of heart disease. And, women age 40 or younger with endometriosis are also more likely to develop heart disease.
So, it’s important for every women to adopt a heart healthy lifestyles. We should also familiarize ourselves with the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and ask our doctors to assess our risk of heart disease.
Let’s take a look at how we can adopt a heart healthy lifestyle:
Eat healthy foods. Try the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
- Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Eat fish, poultry, beans, nuts, vegetable oils and low fat dairy products
- Limit food that are high in saturated fat and sodium
- Limit sugar and sweeteners
Get moving. Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week). And also include muscle strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease. Choosing heart-healthy foods and getting regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Reduce stress. Stress may cause high blood pressure and increases heart disease risks.
Get enough sleep. ( Aim for 7-8 hours per night) Not getting enough sleep increases heart disease.
Keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Make sure you know your numbers. Your blood pressure, your cholesterol numbers all of which can impact your heart health. Always inform your clinician how you are doing.
Quit smoking. Smoking harms your heart and blood vessels.
And, lastly if you have any symptoms, contact your clinician and if you are unsure, don’t wait call 911 immediately for help.
Good health to you all,