heart disease, women, health, cardiovascular, prevention, heart disease awarenessHeart disease causes 27% of female deaths – more than all cancers. Nearly half a million women die of heart disease every year, but only 13% of Americans know that heart disease is the number one health threat for women.

Why You Should Be Aware

“It’s an equal opportunity killer,” said Dr. Jennifer Mieres, a cardiology professor at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York. “Women in mid-life are definitely at the highest risk. It’s a volatile time for women, as the menopause transition is marked by changes in body composition, fat distribution, and an increase in cholesterol levels.”

According to American Heart Association statistics, among women, 90% have one or more risk factors for heart disease at some point in their lives. Yet, 80% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

The Best Ways Women Can Combat Heart Disease

Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and causes one of every four CVD deaths.

Eat a balanced diet. Limit saturated and trans fats, and plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat proteins (poultry, fish, eggs), and nuts.

Limit daily sodium intake. Adults should have no more than a teaspoon (or 2,300 mg) of sodium a day.

Get annual checkups. It’s important to get annual checkups to assess heart-health risk.

Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Women’s heart attack symptoms may cover a wider spectrum than men’s symptoms. Women may experience the “classic” heart attack symptoms of chest pressure, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath, just as men do. Or they may have symptoms such as back pain (usually on the left side), shoulder pain, fullness in the stomach, or nausea.

Pregnancy complication. Recent research has focused on heart disease linked to pregnancy-related complications. Diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy and early delivery have been linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk years later.

Get better sleep. Heart disease is connected to getting less than six or seven hours of sleep a night. Poor sleep can cause high blood pressure, make it difficult to lose weight, and may make you less likely to want to exercise.

Tame stress. Chronic stress is another area of concern for women. It can lead to behaviors and factors that impact heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, and overeating.

Find a health partner. It helps to have a partner in the endeavor in all heart-healthy efforts. A friend, family member, or co-worker can be a good partner for getting physically active and sticking with a healthy eating plan.

If you have questions about getting heart health, contact Creekside Center for Women at 479.582.9268.