Did you know that heart disease is the biggest killer of women in both the US and UK? I was surprised because I must admit I thought it might be breast and other cancers or even obesity and smoking-related diseases. I found lots of info but the headline “Heart disease kills one woman in the U.S. every minute. More women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer” really shocked me. Apparently also, if a woman has a heart attack there’s a greater chance that she will not survive the first year, than for a man. So now that I’ve got you worried here are a few tips on how to be heart smart.
1. Facts and Figures
Major risk factors are high blood pressure and high cholesterol but they are easily controlled and reduced but only if you know you need to do so. Go to your GP and find out your readings and adjust your diet accordingly.
2. Fats Aren’t All Bad
Understanding fats means you don’t have to cut them from your diet. It’s saturated fats that are the problem for heart health because it raises cholesterol so cut out foods high in saturates and switch to foods that contain mono and polyunsaturated fats instead.
3. Kick the Habit
No soap-boxing, no lecturing, just simply – quit smoking. Smokers are nearly twice as likely to have an attack as non-smokers.
4. One for the Road
Might actually be the end of the road. There’s no need to give up the booze, just stick to 14 units of alcohol weekly and certainly no binge drinking.
5. Waist Away
If you cut 10% of your body weight you cut the risk of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes) by 20%. You should also exercise for at least 30 minutes every day but if you can’t manage that, a 10-minute burst of brisk activity will make a difference.
6. Club Med
Heart disease is not as prevalent in Mediterranean countries and as US/UK lifestyles are similar to this region apart from the food, it’s the diet that is believed to be efficacious in keeping hearts healthier. Med food is extremely tasty and varied, packed with those unsaturated fats that fight cholesterol, and because of a diet packed with fruit and veg you’d also be eating great fibre and tons of disease fighting anti-oxidants. If you eat tasty well-cooked food, you’ll find you’ll eat a lot less salt which will reduce risk of high blood pressure.
7. Stress Ye Not
Our lives can be full of pressures and worry so the one thing not to do is to stress about heart disease. Our normal day to day stress is most likely what causes us to smoke, overeat and drink in the first place so by regulating these a bit more we should feel a greater degree of control over everything.
If you want to know if you are at risk of heart disease here are the factors. If three of more of these apply to you, you need to throw yourself wholeheartedly (groan) into making some changes.
• You’re overweight
• You’re a smoker
• You have type 2 diabetes
• You have high blood pressure
• You have high cholesterol
• You don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
• You have a high fat diet
• You add salt to your food
• You don’t exercise
• You drink too much
• You’re post menopause
• There’s been heart disease in the family
Go on! Have a heart. A healthy one of course.
Top Photo Credit: peet-astn