Preventing Heart Disease in Women: 4 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today
When it comes to heart health, women have unique needs. In fact, studies have revealed that women experience more symptoms in the event of a heart attack than men do. Several of the additional symptoms include fainting, indigestion, and extreme fatigue. Recognizing the differences that women face — both in symptoms and in health needs — can go a long way in staying safe and healthy.
The Everywomen shares lifestyle changes that all women can make right away to prevent their risk of heart disease.
Consider Breast Cancer
If you’re a recent survivor of breast cancer, congratulations. It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re done with breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or hormone therapy. You essentially have a new lease on life. You’ve beaten cancer and can look forward to more time with your family. While your oncologist and general physician will help you monitor for any future issues, it’s important to keep in mind that, while it’s rare, breast cancer treatment has been linked to heart disease. Chemotherapy and radiation are great at treating cancer, but they can also cause severe damage to the heart. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor, and to also consider implementing the following lifestyle changes if you haven’t already.
Maintain good oral health
It isn’t often that people recognize the connection between poor oral health and overall heart health. However, neglecting your oral health can lead to conditions such as gum disease, which research has linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
In addition to proper brushing and flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, correcting crooked teeth is also crucial. Misaligned teeth make it easier for bacteria to build up, and it’s more challenging to fully clean your teeth. A straightening treatment is the most effective way to correct this problem. The challenge is determining the best course of treatment.
Braces are commonly used for severe alignment issues but tend to cost more and require office visits. For minor misalignment, at-home treatments are a great alternative. Talk to your dentists to determine the best option for your circumstances.
It is a common misconception to think that you must have a rigorous fitness routine to keep your heart healthy. This simply isn’t true. On the contrary, one of the best exercises for your heart is walking. Walking for at least 30 minutes per day, between five to seven times weekly, you can reap all kinds of heart-related benefits.
What kind of benefits can you expect to experience? Regular walking strengthens your heart, lowers your blood pressure (which is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke), and helps you maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, it is also effective for decreasing body fat.
Stop smoking and drink less alcohol
Two major factors leading to heart disease are smoking and excess alcohol consumption. Tobacco use (in any amount) has consistently been linked to heart issues. However, moderate red wine drinking can actually decrease your overall risk of dying from heart disease. When alcohol is consumed in excess, though, it can contribute to hypertension, which is a big risk factor.
It is important for women who do drink to ensure that they are consuming what is considered to be a “moderate” amount. While men can safely drink two glasses of red wine per day, women are only supposed to have one glass each day. Being mindful of this difference is key when trying to avoid drinking too much alcohol.
Find recipes that incorporate plenty of vegetables and fruits
Eating fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis is super important when working to protect your heart. Regular consumption of berries, apples, peaches, and oranges is especially essential. Research has shown that eating a total of 10 (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables each day can decrease your risk of heart disease by a whopping 28%.
If you find it challenging to eat produce, search for recipes that subtly incorporate a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables. Try making zucchini bread, low-sugar avocado brownies, vegetable-based burgers, and more.
On top of these valuable suggestions, it is wise to visit your doctor regularly for check-ups, and for personalized recommendations. Even the smallest of changes can go a long way in keeping your heart healthy.