Heart disease is the primary cause of death globally for women. Despite this, many are still apt to disregard the significance of looking after their heart health. Since women's bodies function differently from men, it is of paramount importance to take note of the distinct risk factors that can result in an increased probability of developing heart diseases.
Here are five things that women should not overlook when it comes to heart health:
#1: Family history
Family history can have a great impact on a woman's likelihood of getting heart disease. A discussion with a healthcare provider about her family history is essential, as well as any modifiable risk factors. Furthermore, genetic testing may be recommended to assess any potential genetic elements that could up the chances of acquiring the condition.
Smoking is a significant contributor to heart disease, particularly in women, who 2-6x more likely to develop it than those who don't smoke. This is attributed to its effects on the blood vessels as well as the possibility of leading to atherosclerosis - plaque build up in the arteries that restricts blood flow to the heart. Therefore, one of the best ways to protect cardiac health is by quitting smoking - even if you have been smoking for many years. It's never too late!
#3: Physical activity
Regular physical activity is paramount for a strong and healthy heart. Research shows that physically inactive women are more prone to developing cardiovascular diseases than those who partake in exercise regularly. Combining aerobic activities of moderate or vigorous intensity with strength training exercises at least twice per week can help reduce blood pressure, decrease the chances of diabetes, and optimise cholesterol levels. To stay in shape, women should strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
A healthy diet is critical for maintaining a healthy heart. Women should aim for a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. A diet that is high in saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium can increase the risk of heart disease. Women should limit their intake of processed and packaged foods and choose fresh, whole foods whenever possible. It is also essential to watch portion sizes and avoid overeating.
Stress can have a major influence on cardiac wellness. Incessant anxiety can boost the likelihood of coronary illness by increasing blood pressure, raising cholesterol levels, and prompting adverse behavior, such as overeating, smoking, or lack of exercise. Women should adopt methods to handle stress, for example using relaxation tactics, engaging in routine exercise, or speaking with a mental health practitioner.
#6: High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease, often referred to as the "silent killer" since there may be no warning signs. Women should stay aware of their own numbers and aim for a systolic below 120/80 mmHg. Fortunately, living a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition, physical activity, and stress management can help keep this number in check.
#7: Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a necessary waxy substance for the body to function correctly, but high blood levels may cause blockages in arteries and raise heart disease risks. Women should keep their total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, LDL (bad) cholesterol beneath 100 mg/dL and HDL (good) cholesterol over 50 mg/dL by having regular checks.
In addition to these factors, women should be aware of additional risk components for cardiac issues, like diabetes, obesity, family history and age. It's crucial that they consult with their medical practitioner about their personal risks and devise an individualised strategy for sustaining heart health. Furthermore, women must bear in mind the warning signs of heart disease which may be different from men. While chest pain is usually the initial sign of a heart attack in both genders, women might experience other signs such as breathing problems, queasiness, back or jaw pains or extreme tiredness.
Women have an important role to play in protecting their hearts from disease. Being aware of any family history, not smoking, exercising regularly, consuming a healthy diet and controlling stress can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease while boosting overall health and well-being. Taking these proactive steps will go a long way in promoting women's cardiac health.