Just as women are different in build than men, so are their hearts different. However for years physicians seemed to feel that men were more prone to heart attacks than women, and often would not take symptoms of women’s heart problems seriously enough. Physicians’ attitudes, thankfully, have changed. The potential for women to have heart attacks is in many cases taken just as seriously as the potential for men.
The statistics for women in this area are very serious. Heart disease accounts for one third of deaths of women. Forty-two percent of women who have heart disease die within one year as compared to twenty-four percent of men. Heart attacks of women under fifty are more likely to be fatal than those of men.
Unfortunately the signs of a heart attack in a woman are more insidious than that of a man. There may be no elephant on my chest feeling that men often get. There may be no chest pain at all among many. Many symptoms are those of weakness that may mimic the flu. This makes diagnosing a woman’s heart attack so much more difficult.
However there is a bright light in trying to get to the situation where your heart may be compromised. There are very simple things to do, though sometimes they may seem difficult to
This may seem a simple thing to say not to do. Smoking fills your lungs with carbon monoxide and deprives your heart of much of the oxygen it needs to function fully. This is something to do
cold turkey, not gradually. The good news is that after only five years of not smoking your risk drops to the same risk as one who has never smoked.
LOOSE WEIGHT IF YOU ARE OVERWEIGHT
There is nothing pleasing to your heart about being plump. Your heart has to work harder for every extra pound you are carrying around. Cut your calories. Deliberately eat smaller portions. Set an example for your children as well. Obese parents often foster obese children and in this case you are setting them up for a future of heart problems as well.
Take your BMI (Body Mass) index, it should not be more than 25.
EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE
You can never get too much of this wonderful prescription. Work out thirty to sixty minutes most days of the week. Studies show that even portioning out your thirty or sixty minutes by doing ten minute increments throughout the day can be beneficial. Pick up your workout pace. Start walking at whatever miles an hour you feel comfortable with and generally you’ll find you’ll want to walk faster.
You don’t have to run as some people’s knees are negatively effected. You can start exercising at any age and at any time. Exercising will also help you loose weight in a healthy manner. If you’re a desk jockey, stand up and move for ten minutes periodically. People who work out also live longer.
Find a hobby that makes you move, like tennis, baseball, volleyball, or basketball. Biking is also good exercise and swimming is great for your lungs too.
EAT HEALTHILY AND WELL
Many of us have a sweet tooth and it’s definitely hard to reshape our eating habits, but if we set out to eat as many healthy things a possible, perhaps it might drive our lust for sweets down. Stay out of fast food places. Eating healthy takes preparation and willpower. Read labels. Avoid buying anything with the ingredients partially hydrogenated and with trans fats. Limit things made with white flour. Eat brown rice or wild instead of white rice. Try to aim for five to ten servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Treat yourself in a different way, make fruit salads or homemade smoothies with fresh berries, bananas, and other fruits. In winter make yourself soups of vegetables and fruits. Go nuts for nuts, walnuts and almonds top the list. Dribble olive oil over salads and avoid commercial dressings. Mix flax seed into your oatmeal, which itself is a great thing to eat. Eat skinned chicken. Eat beans and peas.
KEEP YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE AND CHOLESTEROL UNDER CONTROL
The figures change here, but 120/80 seems to be the new tops for blood pressure, and under 200 for cholesterol. Cholesterol screenings are broken down into figures for LDL, or what is known as the destructive element and HDL, the positive element. While LDL figures are affected by what you eat, but also by genetics, the HDL levels can actually be raised by exercise. The ‘good’ HDL levels can mitigate the negative LDL levels. Here again exercise reigns triumphant.
To promote heart health in women all five of the Elite Sports Clubs are offering a “Change of Heart” exercise class and fundraiser. According to Jan Bauman, Group Exercise Director at Elite Sports Club-Brookfield,“the event will be held at all of our five Elite Sports Clubs on Sunday afternoon, February 8th, from 11am-1pm, with heart pumping healthy workouts. Exercising is so important to women for continued heart health. All participants will also receive a Ten Steps to a Heart Healthy Life magnet, red dress pins, a change of heart water bottle, and a subscription to SELF magazine.”
The cost for the event is $20 for both members and non-members, proceeds go to the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women.
Though women’s heart health is of paramount importance we are not unconcerned with men’s
heart health as well. The same steps that women should take to keep their hearts healthy should be taken by men as well. Good eating, check-ups, and of course, exercise.