Be Smart for Your HeartIN WOMEN'S HEALTH
Men have heart attacks and strokes more often than women, but the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease for women is higher. As you age, particularly if you're past menopause, your risk for cardiovascular disease is increasing, and, if you're an African-American woman, you're more likely to die of heart disease than if you're a Caucasian woman. Here are seven ways the National Women's Health Information Center suggests you can reduce your risks for heart and cardiovascular disease.
- Eat a healthful diet. Cut back on foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. This will lower your blood pressure and keep your blood sugar and cholesterol at a healthy level. The Vegetarian Awareness Network says that vegetarians have a lower heart disease death rate than non-vegetarians.
- Exercise. Exercise is wonderful for your heart. A Harvard University study showed that women who walked three miles per hour or faster at least three hours a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 40 percent. The more regular and vigorous the activity the better, although even moderately intense activity can help you control blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and, for some people, blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight can be difficult, but maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good heart health. Talk to your doctor about the best way to shed extra pounds.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure levels. The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart has to work and the more at risk it is. Work with your doctor to keep track of your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels. As your cholesterol levels rise, so does your risk. Studies show that low HDL (good cholesterol) in women signals heart disease more readily than high total cholesterol. Find out what your cholesterol level is and talk with your doctor about it.
- Manage your diabetes. Diabetes increases a woman's risk of a heart attack four to six times over, more than double the risk for men with diabetes. Because the risk is so high for women with diabetes, experts suggest that your diet include whole-grain carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice, in place of refined ones like white bread and white rice.
- Stop smoking. If you smoke, you are at twice the risk of heart attack. If you're a non-smoker who consistently breathes secondhand smoke, your risk also is increased.
| Talk with Your Doc
Good communication with your doctor is a great way to take care of yourself. You will learn more, your doctor will get to know you better, and, based on the additional information, he or she may be able to provide better care for you. Here are some tips from The National Women's Health Information Center to help you make the most of your doctor visits.
Sources: womenshealth.gov, mln.nih.gov© 2013. True North Custom Media. All Rights Reserved.
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