Know the Top Ten Risk Factors for Women-and-Heart-Disease

Women-and-heart-disease is a stark reality that must be taken seriously. Heart disease has long been considered a “male disease.” Recent studies, however, show that it is the number-one cause of death in middle-age and older women. The myth that heart disease does not affect women is dangerous. An urgent need exists for a greater awareness about women-and-heart-disease.

Women-and-heart-Disease -- A Serious Reality

Women who have heart attacks are twice as likely to die as men within the first few weeks. An estimated 42 million American women live with some form of heart disease, but too many are unaware of the threat they face. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide.

Estrogen is a womans natural protection against heart disease. During childbearing years, estrogen levels are at their highest, and a higher level of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) is present. The combination lowers the risk of women-and-heart-disease before menopause. A woman’s risk of heart disease rises after menopause.

Heart disease is not a specific disease, but rather a broad term used to describe a number of conditions that can affect your heart and, in some cases, your blood vessels. Heart disease is also called cardiovascular disease, and can include coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, blocked vessels that can lead to heart attacks or stroke, heart infections, and heart defects from birth.

Most of us both men and women are at risk of developing heart disease. While some risk factors are a matter of age and genes, we can make lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce our risk of developing heart disease. For each lifestyle change your chance for a heart attack or stroke goes down and the quality of your life may go up. Out of control cholesterol levels and age are risk factors.

The top ten risk factors for heart disease in women are:

  1. Stress. Unresolved stress can damage arteries and worsen other risk factors. Stress is a leading cause of almost all chronic diseases.
  2. Smoking. Smoking significantly increases your chance of developing heart disease. For women, smoking is the greatest risk factor for heart disease. Women who smoke are two to six times more at risk for a heart attack than women who do not smoke.
  3. Blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) increases your chance of developing heart disease. Elevated blood pressure, especially in overweight women, also leads to an increased risk of stroke.
  4. Diabetes. Diabetics have a greater risk of developing heart disease.
  5. Diet. A diet high in unhealthy fats and sugar can increase your chances of getting heart disease. Excess sugar is arguably the leading dietary cause of heart disease. You are what you eat. Learn to manage your diet and eat for health.
  6. Gender. Men are usually at a higher risk of developing heart disease than women before menopause. After menopause women-and-heart-disease is a much bigger problem when women have as high or higher risk of developing the disease than men.
  7. Genetics. Having a history of heart disease in your family increases your chances of developing the disease. This does not mean that heart disease is inevitable especially if you control those risk factors that you can such as nutrition and exercise.
  8. Lack of exercise. Not exercising can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, controls blood pressure, increases the levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol, and reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  9. Oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene can lead to infections, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
  10. Obesity. Excess weight increases your chances of developing the disease. Being forty or more pounds over your ideal body weight increases your risk of heart disease. Repeated weight loss and gain also increases your risk of heart disease.

Take control of your life. Study health issues and schedule regular visits to your family physician. Learn to control those risk factors that you can control. Knowing when to see your doctor can be vital. Check this link.

Women-and-heart-disease is a very real risk. You can reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • Quit smoking. Women who quit smoking can after being smoke free for two to three years reduce their risk of heart disease to a level near that of a nonsmoker.
  • Manage the stress in your life. It is easy to say but tough to do especially in today's trying and tough environment. But the effort to manage the stress in your life can make a huge difference in your quality of life and your longevity. Stress and anxiety are killers that rob us of happiness.
  • Healthy diet. Choose to eat healthy foods. Reduce salt and avoid foods high in unhealthy fat and sugar. Eat a lot of whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables. Vegetables with the highest concentrations of nutrients include cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.
  • Nutritional supplementation. A high intake of a variety of antioxidants, a balance of proper fats, and the use of special supplements may protect most of us from heart attack and stroke. Consult your physician before starting any program of nutritional supplementation. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.
  • Exercise. Participate in aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking, biking, rowing, stepping, or jogging. Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days per week. Walking is a great way to get the aerobic exercise that you need and can also reduce stress. Thirty minutes a day five days per is effective but sixty minutes uninterrupted walking every day is much better.
  • Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure. Have total blood cholesterol, HDLs, LDLs and blood pressure checked and follow up with your physician.
  • Know that you may be at risk. Women-and-heart-disease is a very real threat. Don’t assume that heart disease is a “man’s disease.” Knowledge is power only if you act on it.

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