Women's Health: Proactive Steps to Promote Heart Health
Did you know heart attack is the number one killer of women worldwide?
Upsetting as this news is, women can do something about it. Staying physically active is one thing we can do, and I am focusing on this now.
According to the Heart Association, 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help to prevent heart attack. Physical activity and exercise differ slightly. Exercise is usually programmed movement, such as doing sit-ups and jumping jacks, whereas physical activity includes all types of movement -- walking, dancing, playing tennis, bicycling, skiing, ice skating, and more.
You may have a heart murmur as I do, or been diagnosed with heart disease. Here are some steps you may take for a healthier heart.
- Get a physical exam each year, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screening.
- Know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Know your body mass index, or BMI.
- Maintain a healthy weight, which is easier said than done.
- Eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and a low-fat diet. This recommendation comes from Mayo Clinic.
- Twice a week, eat fish that contains Omega-3 oils, which help to prevent heart attack. These fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and fresh, not canned, tuna.
- Or, take 1,000 milligrams of fish oil a day. It has to be the right kind of oil, however, so check with your doctor.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, join a smoking cessation program.
- Get 25-30 minutes of physical activity on most days. I am trying to do this every day.
- Know the symptoms of heart attack. Men experience shortness of breath, weakness, unusual fatigue, cold sweats, and dizziness. Women have some of these symptoms and others as well: disturbed sleep, unusual fatigue, indigestion, anxiety, and some have upper back pressure. Many women mistake their symptoms for flu.
- If you are at risk for heart attack, take one low-dose aspirin (also called baby aspirin) a day. Check with your doctor before starting this regimen.
"Those are simple steps," you may be muttering to yourself. True, but these steps, when added together, can have a big impact on your heart health. Be proactive! Start with a few steps and work your way down the list. These steps may prevent a heart attack.