Heart Disease is serious – we know that it’s the number one killer of women and we know that nearly half of all women have at least one risk factor by the time they’re over 20 years old. But what many of us don’t know is how to prevent heart disease – or at the very least how to minimize our risk of developing it.
That’s where the power of education and awareness come in! By just learning to recognize and understand the impact of heart disease, you’re taking a big step toward supporting your lasting heart health. Of course, the best way to really address the unique needs of your heart is by working with a cardiologist – but there are a few simple ways you can start supporting your heart health today.
Here are 7 Things Every Women Should Know About Heart Disease:
1. Your risk factors matter.
When it comes to risk factors, there are some you can’t change – like family history, age and menopause – but the majority of risk factors (nearly 80%) can be prevented or managed. Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking – all of which can be changed. Stay up to date with routine wellness screenings to ensure these conditions are identified and treated.
2. Exercise really does make a difference.
As a muscle, your heart needs routine exercise to function its best. By getting just 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily you can reduce – and in some cases reverse – risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight. Plus, exercise helps to support circulation and boost energy levels.
3. You can fuel your heart with the right foods.
While we all know that eating processed foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and/or sugar aren’t exactly heart-health friendly, it can be difficult to remove these foods entirely. Rather than focusing on foods you should avoid, focus on the foods you should add, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and lean protein, all of which are high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants (key nutrients for your heart).
4. Your stress takes a physical toll.
Stress has become a common fixture in our lives, so much so that it feels normal or okay to experience chronic, long-term stress. However, elevated stress levels take a serious toll on nearly every system of your body, especially the heart. Over time, stress increases your blood pressure and heart rate, along with affecting sleep health and immune health. Make time for yourself and to unwind through journaling, meditation, time in nature and talking with friends and family.
5. You know your body – and heart – better than anyone.
Oftentimes, heart conditions may not cause obvious or clear signs and symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s important to listen to your body and to pay attention to changes – no matter how big or small – as these may indicate something more serious. Early signs of heart disease may include ongoing or persistent abdominal pain, upper back pain, nausea, fatigue/general weakness or even changes in skin color.
6. Women experience unique warning signs.
Unfortunately, it may not always be obvious that you have heart disease until you experience an event like a heart attack. Even when this occurs, some people – especially women – may not have the classic symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath. If you have profuse sweating or nausea, sudden and severe jaw pain or arm pain, lightheadedness or sense of doom, call 9-1-1 and seek emergency care.
7. You’re not alone.
You deserve to feel empowered and supported when it comes to your heart health! At Georgia Heart Institute, we recognize that long-term heart health takes dedication and by taking the time to connect with each patient, we’re able understand their unique needs and concerns. In addition to disease prevention and treatment, we work with you to provide specialized, whole-person care that ensures your heart stays at its healthiest – now and always. Find your partner in lasting heart health today!