Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, claiming the lives of one in three women. Unfortunately, the simple fact of being a woman increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some risk factors you can't do anything about. But others you can treat, manage or control with the help of your healthcare provider. Those you can't change, like your family history, are still important when assessing your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Research has shown the best way to protect your heart is to stay active, eat a healthy and balanced diet low in saturated fats, and reduce your daily stress. You don't have to make big changes to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Take small steps each week toward adopting a heart-healthy behavior. Here are 7 healthy habits to consider that could help save your life.
• Eat a heart-healthy diet. Make vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and fish mealtime staples. Limit salt, saturated fat, and added sugar.
• Get active. Work toward a goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity – like brisk walking per week. Start with 10 minutes once a day.
• Control your blood sugar. Aim for a fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL, and if you have diabetes, take your medications as prescribed and monitor your blood glucose levels closely.
• Watch your cholesterol. Strive for a total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL and an HDL of over 50 mg/dL.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Losing just 7% of your total body weight can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke, decrease bad cholesterol, and decrease A1C for those with diabetes. Note: for every 1 pound lost – 5 pounds of pressure is decreased on your knees!
• Monitor your blood pressure. Keep your numbers below 120/80 mm Hg.
• Live Smoke-Free. If you smoke, seek help from your doctor to quit.
Visit www.goredforwomen.org to find out your risk factors and what you can do to live a healthier lifestyle and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.