Taking care of your heart should be a top priority for everyone. Considering heart disease is the number 1 killer of women, it should be on the forefront of every woman’s mind. The good news is there are some easy fixes women—and men, in fact—can do to keep their heart ticking for years to come.
1. Mind your diet
There are plenty of diets out there that can help you take care of your heart. However, when it comes to choosing a diet, there are some basics things you should be doing to help protect your heart. These would include a lot of the recommendations from the DASH diet.
One thing you really should do is eat a diet that consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean meats, such as fish or chicken. Also, you should avoid too much saturated fat from red meats, processed pork and other processed foods. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are better for you.
2. Remain active
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week. That’s only 30 minutes of exercise per day for 5 days each week, so it’s not a huge time commitment.
But, what does a moderate intensity workout look like? The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s guidelines suggests the following things could be considered moderately intense aerobic exercise:
- A brisk walk at about 2.5 miles per hour or faster
- A nice swim
- A bike ride over level terrain where you go slower than 10 MPH.
- A doubles tennis match
- Ballroom or line dancing
- Yard work and gardening
The important thing to remember is being sedentary is bad for your heart. The American Heart Association says even light intensity exercise is better than being sedentary.
3. Watch your weight
The good thing about getting active is it should help you with your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is very important to your heart’s health because being overweight is a proven risk factor for many heart diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are overweight are at a greater risk for the following diseases:
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
Not sure what your ideal weight is? Talk to your doctor to find out where you should be and other important numbers related to heart health.
4. Don’t smoke
You’ve probably heard that smoking is bad for you, and it’s totally true. It’s well-established that people who smoke are at greater risk for cancers, but did you know they are also at a greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels?
The CDC reports that smoking puts the increased chance of coronary heart disease at 2 to 4 times greater than non-smokers. Smokers also have a 2 to 4 times greater risk of stroke.
5. Know the signs
It may be a popular view that men are the ones who get heart attacks, but the reality is women get them, too. In fact, the CDC says a woman suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds in the United States.
It’s incredibly important to know the signs of a heart attack. If you can recognize them early, you can get life-saving help. The CDC says the most common signs for a heart attack in a woman are:
- A pressure on your chest—like you have something heavy sitting on your chest
- An intense pain in the upper part of your body, typically the neck, back and jaw
- Severe shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911.
To learn more about your heart health, take our heart age test.