Even though heart disease is popularly associated with men, more women than men die of heart disease every year in the US. Here are a few tips that help prevent heart disease in women.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death of both men and women in the US, and it affects 1 in every 4 women. For a woman, the older she gets, the greater her chances of developing some type of heart disease. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease or CHD, which is caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries. Some of the other heart diseases that affect women include the broken heart syndrome and coronary microvascular disease. Coronary microvascular disease affects the tiny arteries in your heart, while broken heart syndrome is caused by extreme emotional stress that leads to heart muscle failure.
The most common symptom associated with heart disease is discomfort, pressure, or pain in the chest. However, this may not be the most prominent symptom in women or the most severe one. Women are more likely to experience heart disease symptoms that are not related to chest pain, than men. Some of these symptoms include sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, discomfort in your upper back, abdomen, neck, or jaw, lightheadedness, and fatigue. Since these symptoms are subtle, women tend to overlook them till the damage is already done. So if you experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
The risk factors associated with heart disease in women are mental stress, depression, diabetes, smoking, metabolic syndrome, lack of physical activity, pregnancy complications, and low levels of estrogen. Although the symptoms of heart disease are different in men and women, the standard methods used to treat them are similar. Stenting and angioplasty are two examples of commonly used effective treatment methods for both women and men. You may also be asked to make certain lifestyle changes to help prevent heart disease.
Dr. Anjanette Ferris, assistant professor of medicine at UConn Health, says, “Heart disease is still the number one killer of women in our country. While we have made some gains in raising awareness, more than one in three females in their lifetime will be affected by cardiovascular diseases. The prevalence of heart disease is still too high, and more needs to be done to prevent it.” So what exactly can be done to prevent heart disease in women? Here are some tips that will help you maintain heart health as well as prevent heart disease.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking is known to triple your risk of heart disease by increasing your blood pressure as well as your chances of forming blood clots. This often leads to strokes and heart attacks. One of the golden rules to prevent heart disease in women is to ask them to quit smoking. Dr. Agnes Kim, a cardiologist at UConn Health, said, “Absolutely don’t smoke cigarettes. Smoking is one of the leading threats to your cardiac health.”
- Exercise Regularly
In order to prevent heart disease in women, it is important that women engage in any form of physical activity, at least 30 to 60 minutes every day. Exercising daily helps you by reducing your stress, lowering your blood pressure, and increasing the good cholesterol. According to Dr. Ferris, exercise is the best medicine to prevent heart disease in women. Dr. Kim, says, “Recent studies suggest that physical inactivity or having a sedentary lifestyle may be almost as bad as smoking tobacco. Don’t just sit. Make sure you get up and move each day. Any form of physical activity is good for your heart health.”
- Reduce Your Salt Intake
One of the risk factors of heart disease, hypertension, is associated with higher salt intake. So one of the ways that will help prevent heart disease in women is to reduce the salt intake. Another cardiologist at UConn Health, Dr. Joyce Meng, says, “Try to choose leaner meats, and avoid processed meats such as cold-cuts that are higher in salt content.”
- Manage Stress Effectively
Stress can increase the risk of the heart disease in women by narrowing the arteries. Dr. Kim says, “Exercise is the best form of stress management. Other methods to manage stress are yoga, meditation, writing in a journal, talking things over, and just simply laughing. Laughing actually lowers the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, enhances your immune system, causes muscle relaxation, and is a great workout for your heart and lungs.”
A diagnosis of heart disease can be quite frightening, therefore, use the tips mentioned above to prevent heart disease in women.