Heart disease results in twice as many deaths for women than all types of cancers, including breast cancer.
Heart disease can present differently in women than in men and increases significantly in postmenopausal women.
After the age of 55, most women have gone through menopause and are no longer producing estrogen which helps increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and decrease LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).
Microvascular disease (aka Syndrome X) is also more prevalent in women and can be present in women with normal angiograms.
If your waist measurement is greater than 35 inches, blood pressure higher than 130/85, HDL < 50 mg/dL, triglycerides > 150 mg/dL, fasting blood sugar > 110 mg/dL then you may have what is known as Metabolic Syndrome. This occurs in approximately 23% of women and increases the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes.
The risk of heart disease and stroke rises with each decade. Family history and ethnicity can contribute to the likelihood of dying from a heart attack or stroke (African American women are at higher risk of stroke).
Stress, depression, habitual anger and social isolation can increase the chances of a heart attack.
What are the best ways to improve your Heart Health??
1. Lose excess weight and eat a healthy diet. A simple diet consisting of lean meat, chicken, dairy products, fresh vegetables and fruit will add years to your life span.
2. Maintain a normal blood pressure by eating properly, keeping your weight down and exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Walking, cycling, yoga, weight training or your favourite sport are all acceptable forms of exercise.
3. Reduce your blood sugar by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
4. Quit smoking and drink moderate amounts of alcohol (1-2 drinks per day maximum).
5. Reduce stress in your life by getting plenty of sleep, meditate and spending quality time with your family and friends.
Do yourself and your family a favour and create a lifestyle that promotes good heart health.
As always, consult with your health care provider before undertaking any strenuous exercise program or changing your medication.