Like many women, you might consider breast cancer as your top health concern. However, you may not realize that there is an even bigger risk to your health: heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and it’s surprisingly common. It impacts nearly 1 in 3 women during their lifetime, compared to 1 in 8 women who will get breast cancer. In honor of American Heart Month, Beverly Hospital is here to remind you the importance of knowing your risk and ways for you to take care of your heart.
Some things can make you more likely than the average person to get heart disease, which sets the stage for heart attacks. For instance, your risk rises if you:
- Are 55 or older or postmenopausal. One reason is the decline in the hormone estrogen (which offers women some heart protection) that occurs after menopause.
- Have high blood pressure. This damages the heart’s arteries. In addition, women are more prone to heart disease if they had high blood pressure during pregnancy, a condition known as pre-eclampsia.
- Have high cholesterol. Too much LDL(low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol in the blood can clog arteries in the heart, triggering a heart attack.
- Have diabetes. Or if you have its precursor, prediabetes.
- Have a family history of early heart disease. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55 or your mother or sister had one before age 65, your risk rises too.
- Are overweight or obese. Extra weight is hard on the heart.
- Make unhealthy lifestyle choices. These include eating unhealthy foods, smoking or not exercising.
Ways To Protect Your Heart
A good first step is to see your healthcare provider. Ask about your personal risk for heart disease and what you can do to lower it. See if there needs to be changes to your lifestyle.
Some ways you can keep your heart healthy include:
- Add exercise to your daily or weekly routine. Walking is easy, and every step helps. If you have limited mobility, consider seated exercises like hand squeezes or knee extensions.
- Eat more heart-healthy foods. Focus more on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose foods low in sodium, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Eating sensible food portions and exercising can help.
- If you smoke, try your best to quit. Your heart will thank you!
At Beverly Hospital, your heart is in good hands. Our skilled physicians, qualified staff, and array of invasive and non-invasive procedures make Beverly a top choice for all heart-related needs. If you need a cardiologist, look to our physician directory: 877-207-2241 or www.beverly.org/physician-directory
Sources: American College of Cardiology; American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; U.S. Food and Drug Administration