Many women think heart disease is a man’s disease; however, heart disease is the primary cause of death in women in the United States. Understanding how to care for your heart and taking action to prevent heart disease, including taking supplements for women can reduce your risk of heart disease.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease, happens when plaque begins to build up in the arteries that lead to the heart. When this occurs, the flow of blood to the heart is reduced. If the arteries become completely blocked, blood will not be able to carry oxygen to the heart. Decreased oxygen levels cause damage to your blood vessels and heart.
Risk factors for heart disease
Several things can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Some of these risk factors are preventable while others are not.
- Age – The risk of heart disease increases with age. Women over the age of 40 are at an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
- Diabetes – High glucose levels increase your risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and angina. Controlling your glucose level through a diabetic friendly diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Integrative women’s care can help you control your diabetes and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Family history – If you have a family history of heart disease, you are at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
- High blood pressure – High blood pressure may damage an individual’s arteries, which can reduce blood flow and oxygen. Take steps to control your hypertension to improve your heart health.
- High cholesterol – High cholesterol levels allow plaque to build up in your arteries. As plaque builds up, the arteries become narrow and blood flow decreases.
- Menopause – When a woman reaches menopause, the risk of a heart attack increases dramatically. From ages 45 to 64, one in 8 American women have heart disease. By the time a woman reaches 65 or older, her risk of heart disease increases to one in four.
- Obesity – Obesity can contribute to heart disease in three different ways. It has been associated with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, increased blood pressure readings, and an increased risk of diabetes.
- Obstructive sleep apnea – Sleep apnea has been associated with heart disease, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.
- Sedentary lifestyle – A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of a plethora of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lipid disorders, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
- Smoking – Smoking approximately doubles your risk of heart disease. Tobacco products are filled with dangerous chemicals and additives, which can damage your heart and blood vessels. If you smoke, consider quitting to improve your overall health.
Heart disease symptoms in women
Men and women react differently to heart disease. Unfortunately, the symptoms of heart disease in women can mimic other health conditions, including menopause, anxiety, depression, and more. Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms women experience with heart disease.
- Shallow breathing
- Shortness of breath
Lifestyle changes you can make to improve your heart health
Whether you have been diagnosed with heart disease or just want to improve your heart health, there are many lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your heart health. Let’s take a look at what you can do today to begin making healthy changes.
Changing your diet to one that is low in sodium and low in fat can help lower your risk of heart disease. Let’s take a look at some of the foods you should include in your diet.
- Vegetables - Fresh or frozen veggies are low in sodium; therefore, you should fill three fourths of your plate with these nutritious veggies.
- Fish – Fish, including salmon, herring, and Atlantic mackerel, are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which can decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Choose omega 3 rich fish twice a week for optimal heart health.
- Fruits – Fruit like berries help to lower your blood pressure and increase your good cholesterol thanks to the naturally occurring polyphenols. Furthermore, berries are diabetic friendly fruits that can be added to your diet.
- Olive oil – Olive oil contains fatty acids that can help lower your risk of heart disease. It can also help improve blood sugar control and insulin levels.
Physical activity can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Getting daily exercise, or at least 150 minutes weekly, can help lower your cholesterol, help you maintain a healthy weight, and lower blood pressure readings.
Stress can increase your risk of heart disease. When you are under a lot of stress, you may try to self medicate using alcohol, you may start smoking or smoke more than you typically would or overeat. Practicing stress relieving techniques can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease affects millions of women each year. Knowing your risk factors and the symptoms women experience with heart disease is the first step toward improved heart health. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and reducing your stress levels can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.