Heart Disease in Women: Women and Heart Disease
Studies have shown that heart disease is a leading cause of death in women over 40. In fact, more than 500,000 women die of heart disease each year. The risk of heart disease in women increases with age, especially after menopause. Menopause, of course, is normal in a woman’s life, as it comprises of changes made in the body after the cessation of menstruation. Changes during menopause include a decrease of estrogen production and other physical changes.
Despite the increased risk, the American Heart Association guidelines state that heart disease in women is preventable. Heart disease kills 1 in 3 American women, so understanding of this disease should be a priority. Women are catching on, as 60% of U.S. women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 health threat.
Each woman should know prevention methods against heart disease. Prevention is much easier than the cure, and sadly, the knowledge of heart disease comes to many too late.
Following are suggestions for a prevention plan against heart disease:
-Women over the age of 20 should see a doctor to learn their heart disease risk
-1 in 10 women will learn that they are at low risk for heart disease. With this information in mind, these women should continue their healthy lifestyles.
-Women who are at risk of heart disease should start making lifestyle changes. Changes may include quitting smoking, adopting a heart-healthy diet, including exercise into their day, as well as watching their weight. With the advice of their physicians, some women may need blood pressure medications, cholesterol reducing therapy, or regular aspiring.
-Women with existing medical conditions that increase their risk of heart disease or stroke should take extra care to include the measures suggested previously. Should choose not to, aggressive medical treatments or rehab may be advised.
- All women with heart disease should be evaluated for depression, as it is common in women afflicted with this disease.
-A minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise is advised. 60 to 90 minutes is suggested for those who want to lose weight.
-Women with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity have an increased risk of heart disease. Additionally, women who smoke and have low physical activity are at an increased risk.
While heart disease in women is increasing, variations in lifestyle can discourage these numbers from rising. Clinical experience suggests the following guidelines:
- Maintain blood pressure of less than 140/90 mmHg (120/80 is optimal)
- Maintain blood glucose of 80-120 mg/dL (less than 100 is optimal)
- Maintain total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL (and not less than 160) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) of less than 130 mg/dL (less than 100 is optimal)
- Exercise regularly (30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times weekly is optimal).
Keep in mind that factors such as age, family history, and menopause cannot be controlled or prevented.
Despite this, other factors can be influenced through health-conscious choices. These choices alone could prevent death due to heart disease in women. As previously mentioned, carrying a positive attitude toward this disease along with changes in lifestyle can help fight off the disease, and encourage happier and healthier lives. Meditation, yoga, prayers, and religious activities can have a huge positive impact on your life, and provide methods for coping with the burden of heart disease.
Any existing risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, homocysteine, and high blood pressure can be managed and improved through diet, exercise medication and supplements. Changes in these aspects of living can assist in weight loss and may decrease stress. Quitting smoking also reduces the risk of heart disease in women. By making changes in these factors, heart disease risk and mortality in women can be decreased immensely.