Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. And for women, it’s especially a concern, since symptoms can be different from those seen in men, according to the American Heart Association.
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can do to take better care of your ticker….
GET YOUR ZZZ’S
You need 7 to 8 hours a night to be well rested. While you are asleep your brain forms new pathways to help your memory. It’s also the time when your heart and vascular system system get a break, as your blood pressure and heart rate slow down. Your sleeping body also produces cytokines, which help your immune system fight infections and chronic inflammation. Studies show that poor sleep hurts women more than it does men.
Dr. Deidre Mattina, a Henry Ford Health System cardiologist recommends at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise, whether it’s the gym, in your neighborhood, or even the bedroom. Something as simple as walking counts – ” as long as when I call you on the cell phone I can tell by your breathing that you are exercising.” Mattina admits she has “written on my prescription pad that a patient should have more chocolate, sex and coffee.” All of these, in moderation are good for stress relief, she said.
Exercise lowers your blood pressure, helps you lose weight, increases your good cholesterol (HDL), reduces your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases your insulin sensitivity.
RAISE A GLASS – AND MAYBE A CARROT – TO YOUR HEART
A drink a day can keep the doctor away. If you do drink (don’t start for a healthier heart), Mattina suggests one alcoholic drink is enough. Any more can stress your heart.
This is not just limited to red wine, which does have heart healthy antioxidants. There is evidence that a drink can increase levels of “good” cholesterol and protect against artery damage.
Eating healthy is also essential – watch salt, fat and refined sugar. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Keep a close eye on salt. Most Americans eat too much, and more than 75% of it comes from packaged foods or from eating out. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting salt to less than 2,300 milligrams per day – about 1 teaspoon.
DON’T LET YOUR DOCTOR BE LONELY
Get screened for heart disease. Regular screening can catch risks early and prevent problems down the road.
For women, it’s especially important to know the signs of heart trouble, as they can differ from symptoms in men. Instead of the classic chest pain with exertion, women may experience this pain while resting or have a sensation in their neck or jaw – or classic symptoms that can be confused with gastro-intenstitinal disease. “Women are so busy taking care of everyone else they put themselves last, but they have to take care of themselves when it comes to their heart,” says Dr. Carol Ma, a cardiologist at Florida Hospital in Orlando.
Mattina said when she sees a young patient who has a heart attack, 90% of them admit to being smokers. It’s a little known fact, but most smokers die from heart disease long before they’ll get lung cancer. While there are fewer smokers these days, according to the CDC, the number of women who have quit has plateaued. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. It can create blood clots, decreases your levels of good cholesterol, makes it harder to exercise, and can raise your blood pressure temporarily…….. cnnhealth 2/13/14