If you follow the news, you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America. That means you should be diligent about taking care of your ticker. Of course, that means getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy meal plan, but there are other things in life can lead to a heart attack. Knowing what they are can help you keep your heart pumping along like it should until a ripe, old age. Here are some life events that can lead to a heart attack in women, according to medical experts at Good Housekeeping magazine.
1. No Milk as a Toddler
If you were a toddler that tossed your milk cup on the floor instead of drinking it, you could be at a higher risk of a heart attack. Research shows that skimping on milk at a young age can mess with your cholesterol levels, which ups your risk of developing heart disease as you get older.
2. You Had Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
This common childhood ailment isn't harmful when you're a kid, but studies show that coming down with hand, food and mouth disease as child causes a subtle injury to the heart, which might make it harder for it to fight off heart disease and heart attack later in life. Ask your parents if you ever had hand, food and mouth disease, then let your doctor know if you did so that he can keep any eye on your heart.
3. You Get Hot Flashes
If you're in menopause, you know exactly how ridiculously uncomfortable a hot flash can be. Turns out that women who get bad hot flashes develop thicker carotid artery walls, which is a sign of heart disease. If you haven't reached menopause yet, be on the lookout for intense hot flashes. If you get them, talk to your doctor about the risk of a heart attack.
4. You Don't Have Any Kids or You Have a Lot of Kids
It appears that the magic number of pregnancies and births is two or three. Research shows that having fewer than one child or more than three children. In fact research shows that your risk of heart attack doubles if you've had too few or too many kids. The factors include the way fat distributes with pregnancy and underlying conditions that affect fertility. If you fall in either danger category, it might be smart to more closely monitor your heart health.
5. You're Divorced
Divorce can be an emotional roller coaster as you navigate anger, sadness and fear. It's vitally important to take care of yourself as you go through a divorce for many reasons. One of them happens to be heart disease. Women who are divorced have a 24% higher risk of heart attack than happily married women. That risk goes up if you are divorced more than once.
6. You Had a Premature Baby
If you gave birth before 37 weeks, you could be at a higher risk of heart disease. Why? Because pregnancy places stress on the heart and not bringing a baby to term could indicate heart troubles. Often, symptoms disappear after you give birth, so stay on top of your health post-pregnancy.
7. You Take Meds for Acid Reflux
Everyone occasionally has a bout with acid reflux, also known as heartburn. However, taking meds for chronic acid reflux can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. Doctors aren't sure exactly why, but they theorize that the medications interfere with healthy arteries. If you take meds like Nexium, talk to your doctor about the risk to your heart.
Do any of these life events apply to you? What are you doing to keep your heart healthy?