For women, the biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take a moment to look at your lifestyle, educate yourself on your family history and familiarize yourself with your general health. When you’re armed with this information, you can determine your risk for developing heart disease with the help of a trusted physician, who can also help you develop a plan for avoiding potential problems down the road.
Although you can’t change your family history or your age, you can be an advocate for your heart by making lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors.
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 years old are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within two years.
Control Your Blood Pressure
Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure.
Control Your Cholesterol Levels
If you don’t know your levels, make an appointment with a doctor for a heart health screening so you can learn your number.
Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape just like the rest of your body. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Extra weight puts strain on your heart and arteries. Exercise and a low-fat diet can help you lose weight. Being overweight means you have a higher risk for many other health problems, especially diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Eat a Low-Fat Diet
Keep fat calories to 30 percent or less of the total calories you take in during the day and avoid saturated fat. Health information is listed on food labels to help you make healthy choices.
Take Care of Diabetes
If you have diabetes, then regular exercise, weight control, a low-fat diet and regular doctor visits are a must. Staying on top of it now means avoiding any problems before they come up.
Know Your Family History
Having a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65, are factors that contribute to heart disease. This knowledge can help your doctor determine if you need to take any other preventive measures to ensure your heart health.