Heart Disease Prevention: 10 Things Women Should Do
Determine your risks
Heart disease and stroke are largely preventable – but only if you know your risks and how to lower them. Talk to your doctor about your heart-health and what factors in your life can increase your chances of developing CVD. Some risk factors are controllable, such as diet, exercise and other aspects of your lifestyle, while others, like age, gender and heredity, can’t be changed. Regardless, being aware of your risks is the best way to put a heart-health action plan into practice.
Maintain a healthy weight
According to the American Heart Association, Women with excess body fat, particularly around the waist area, are at a higher risk of heart disease, even if they don’t have other risk factors. In addition, if you are overweight, you are at a higher risk for developing other health problems, which can contribute to heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes. Work with a licensed healthcare professional, such as a registered dietician, on a diet plan to help you lose weight.
Move your body
In addition to a healthy diet, get regular physical activity. Not only does exercise help burn calories to help you maintain a healthy weight, it is also beneficial for your mood, muscles, bones, brain and heart. Aim for 30 minutes of movement every day. Go for a walk, take an exercise class, ride your bike or get outside to garden.
Reduce your stress
Chronic stress is damaging to your health and can drive you to overeat, get inadequate sleep, drink and smoke in excess, and neglect your self-care. Find ways to lower your daily stress levels – eat a balanced diet, use exercise as a stress reliever, connect with friends and family who provide emotional support, and work to change facets of your life that are creating stress.
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking increases your risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. According to the American Heart Association, when you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease and stroke is reduced. Your risk of CHD (congenital heart disease) is substantially reduced within one to two years of cessation. Check your local listings for smoking cessation programs.