Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! This month we want to focus on heart disease and the ways we can prevent this deadly disease. We often think of heart disease as something only men experience, but it is a problem for women as well. Women often have risk factors for heart disease, but they don’t know it. Join us on Feb 3rd to celebrate Go Red for Women Day and wear something red to show your support for women with heart disease and stroke.
Many things can put you at risk for these problems – one’s you can control, and others that you can’t. But the key takeaway is that with the right information, education and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended. Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day.
Here are seven lifestyle change suggestions from the American Heart Association that you should make:
Get active. Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Check out our Walk Around Nevada program to increase and track your daily activity.
Control cholesterol. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.
Eat Foods that can help lower cholesterol
•A variety of whole- and multi-grain products, such as bran and oats
•Fatty fishes, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
•Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables
•Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocado, flax seeds, olive oil and canola oil
•Foods rich in plant sterols, such as nuts like walnuts and almonds
Eat better. Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life. Check out our Half My Plate mobile app to help you eat more fruits and veggies.
Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries. Come visit one of our Heart Healthy events this month and get your blood pressure checked for free.
Lose weight. If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to help you determine if you need to lose weight.
Reduce blood sugar. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
The following tips can all help reduce your blood sugar:
•Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts
•Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin
•Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you
Stop smoking. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health. Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Call our Nevada Tobacco Quit line 1-800-QUIT NOT (800) 784-8669 to get help quitting.
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