Written by: Brandie Perrin, Director of Clinical Research
Did you know Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women in the U.S?
Many people think Heart Disease is a man’s issue but in actuality, it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. It is the #1 killer of women in the United States. So ladies, what can we do to prevent this in our lives to stay healthy and functional, to be there for our families, to see our children grow up, to be a part of our daughter‘s or son’s wedding day, to fulfill those lifelong dreams?
The good news is that we can prevent this from happening to us! The below risk factors for Heart Disease are all are preventable and controllable!
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- High Alcohol Use
You can reduce your risks 1 step at time! Just start with 1 habit and then move on to the next.
1. Exercise Regularly.
This one has always been a struggle for me. I have to think of the “why” behind doing this daily. For me, I have to have good music and dancing so Zumba is my thing. Try to find something you enjoy doing or someone to work out with. It doesn’t have to be very long. 30 minutes most days of the week. Go for a walk, put in a DVD, ride a bike outside or watch your favorite TV show on the stationary bike, go to an exercise class. The heart benefits and stress relief are worth it!
2. Eat a Healthy Diet.
I find eating healthy consistently is a battle for most people including me. The key to long-term success in this area is remembering “why” you are doing it, having balance (the occasional treats) and support. To eat a heart-healthy diet, some of the tips the Mayo Clinic recommends are:
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Eat low-fat protein sources (lean meat, dairy)
- Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber
- Reduce salt or sodium
For more information:
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Being overweight definitely increases your risks for heart disease. To figure out if you are at a healthy weight, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. We all know what to do to manage our weight…eat healthy and exercise. However, one of the major keys is portion control. How much you are eating is just as important as what you are eating. Studies have shown that keeping track and monitoring your food intake helps maintain a healthy weight. One of the best tracking programs my colleagues and I use is called My Fitness Pal.
. It might be worth checking out.
4. Keep Tabs on Your Blood Pressure.
Have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Did you know that many people have absolutely “no signs” or symptoms of High Blood Pressure? That’s why it’s called the “Silent Killer.” I know I didn’t have any. In my 20’s, I had high blood pressure and had no idea until I had to complete a mandatory physical exam for work.
We women have crazy, busy lives, usually taking care of everyone else and often saying that we don’t have time to do anything for ourselves. Ladies, in working with Cardiologists, let me tell you it is worth it! Just put it on the calendar to at least see your physician once a year. If you don’t want to go to your doctor, there are many places to get it checked: Health Fairs (Community Health Network offer lots), Medchecks, Pharmacies, Malls, and Fire Stations.
5. Quit Smoking.
Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things some women have ever had to do. For women, it can be a coping and weight management strategy. I often hear from women in my life who smoke say “smoking helps me deal with my stress and keeps my weight down.”
Ladies, I know this is difficult. I can’t even imagine the struggle. I have never smoked, but I will say that you are worth saving! If you continue smoking, it is a fact that there is a 1 out of 2 chance you will die earlier because of smoking. If you quit smoking now, a lot of your risk for heart disease goes away. Think about it…here are some resources:
For information on quitting, local resources in Indiana, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Other resources see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site and Smokefree.gov.
6. Monitor Your Cholesterol.
If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked in the last couple of years, get it checked. With high cholesterol, there may be absolutely no symptoms until severe damage has been done. It’s a simple blood test.
Find out more on American Heart Association’s Website:
Also, we have available clinical studies to help with cholesterol. www.communityanderson.com/research.
7. Manage Your Diabetes.
People with Type I or Type II Diabetes are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. If you have it, make sure you are checking your blood sugar levels and working with a healthcare provider to manage it.
Here at Community Hospital Anderson, we have wonderful resources in our Diabetes Center
and available clinical studies www.communityanderson.com/research to help.
8. Limit Your Alcohol. Did you know that drinking too much can increase your blood pressure? If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
For more information on this visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.
Incorporating these heart-healthy habits one at time is very doable, and you might find eventually very enjoyable. Well, for me, exercise and eating healthy some days are a struggle I have to admit, but I will say that overall it has been a really good thing in my life. I feel better and know that I am doing everything I can to be around to enjoy life with my loved ones.
Ladies, life is way too short. I’m sure each of us has had experiences to validate that fact. You are worth it! Pick one of these habits and make a change today!
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
American Heart Association