When you think of someone having a heart attack, do you imagine a man or a woman? Many people think cardiovascular disease mostly affects men, but that’s not the case. More women die of cardiovascular disease than anything else.
At Heart & Vascular Institute, our highly trained, expert providers want you to live a healthy, active life for as long as possible, man or woman. But we also encourage women to consider their risk of heart disease and take steps to mitigate it.
The health habits in this post are good for all women, not only those past menopause or those with a higher than average risk of heart disease.
1. Understand your risk
One of the most important things you can do for your heart health is to know the current state of your cardiovascular system. According to the American Heart Association, 45% of women 20 and older already have cardiovascular disease.
Once you know the health of your heart, you can take steps to improve or protect it. Talk to your primary care doctor about heart health and what your individual risks may be.
2. Mind your nutrition
Eating a diet low in saturated fats and refined sugar and high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains is good for everyone. It’s especially important for patients with cardiovascular conditions.
If you’re not sure where to start with nutrition, talk to your doctor. They may be able to guide you to local resources to help you better understand your nutritional needs.
3. Get moving
Regular physical activity that raises your heart rate is one of the best tools at your disposal for keeping your heart healthy.
The current recommendation from the US surgeon general is two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Any activity you enjoy is a good place to start.
You may want to join a local organization like the YMCA or a neighborhood sports league, or you may simply choose to take a brisk, 30-minute walk most days. If you get bored easily, try a mix of activities.
4. Lose weight if you need to
Following a heart-healthy diet and getting regular physical activity should help you lose any extra weight. Being overweight or obese is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
5. Lower stress
Stress is associated with numerous chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease. While it’s easy to say “lower your stress levels,” you may have found it’s not that simple. Some things that may help:
- Decrease your volunteer activities
- Set aside time for a hobby each week
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises
- Spend time outside each week
Here again, physical activity can help. Developing an exercise routine is good for you in so many ways, including stress reduction.
6. Improve your sleep
Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Learn about sleep hygiene and set up your bedroom for quality sleep. Proper sleep, and enough of it, can help with weight loss, stress, and memory and protect your physical health in numerous ways.
7. Ask an expert
If you have questions about what you can do to improve or protect your cardiovascular health, one of the best things you can do is talk to an expert.
The cardiologists at Heart & Vascular Institute are happy to answer your questions and advise you on how best to take care of your heart. We have locations in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan. Call the office nearest you to schedule your visit or book online today.