By Karen Whittier –
February is National Heart Disease and Stroke Month. It’s important for women in particular to be aware of their risks and what they can do to minimize those risks.
Did you know?
1. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US The risk for heart disease in both women and men is related to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. There are some risks that are more pronounced in women, such as:
Your shape matters. Fat distributed around the midsection plus high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high triglycerides equals metabolic syndrome. Pre-diabetes commonly associates with metabolic syndrome. Individuals with diabetes suffer from heart disease (or stroke) more than twice that of non-diabetics.
Depression affects women more than men. It makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, potentially increasing your risk of heart disease. Another emotion-related condition is broken heart syndrome. Broken heart syndrome, an apt name, describes a condition of heart muscle failure that results following extreme emotional stress.
Estrogen can have a protective aspect for women, with no family history of heart disease, lowering their risk of heart attack pre-menopause. After menopause though, the risk is roughly equal to men.
2. Heart attack symptoms are different for women
The main symptom of heart attack is chest pain. However, that’s not always the case, especially for women. It’s important women recognize these symptoms from the Mayo Clinic:
*Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
*Shortness of breath
*Nausea or vomiting
*Lightheadedness or dizziness
3. The heart is a muscle—keep it strong and healthy!
A muscle must be exercised to stay healthy and functioning properly. Work up to 30 minutes per day of aerobic activity.
Stress is toxic. Yoga is an effective method for reducing stress. Yoga gives women an avenue to lower the effects of stress; one that doesn’t involve medication. In fact, incorporating a healthy lifestyle with a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, abstaining from tobacco and including only moderate levels of alcohol could reduce the amount of medications needed.
Cigarettes are the only products produced in the US that, when used as intended by the manufacturer, will lead to death. Yes, cigarettes contain tobacco, but are you aware of the hundreds of other additives? Smoking is deadly for women. The American Lung Association highlights the impact smoking has on women.
There aren’t as many smokers in decades passed. In 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry released a report on Smoking and Health. It precipitated a change in awareness, on cause and effect, and smoking rates started falling. Unfortunately, there’s been a slowing in that decline. Distressingly, the youth of America still take up smoking. Why does smoking still have an appeal? Perhaps the angst and/or rebellion of teenagers; the worry over weight; and/or the disconnect between their young bodies and older bodies. There have been controls to limit cigarette and smoking exposure in the media. Gone are the TV commercials; not gone though are the magazine advertisements. Primetime TV shows don’t have characters that smoke, but that leaves a lot of shows on cable. In fact, smoking IS prevalent on the TV shows teen watch most. Movies have always had smoking as an option for their characters. Read how movies influence smoking behavior in Smoking in the Movies.
You depend on your heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to the body, to deliver nutrient-rich blood to the body, don’t let your heart down. Live a heart-friendly lifestyle. Go Red for Women lists several strategies for keeping your heart healthy and strong so the beat(ing) goes on.
Karen Whittier, Chief Activist and founder of Embrace Activism, is passionate about health and wellness. She created Embrace Activism to empower individuals to take more control over their own health destinies and make a difference. Embrace Activism is the online source for yoga products with a CAUSE. Health & eco-friendly as well as socially-conscious, Embrace Activism allows you to do MORE with your practice!
In addition to her role as Chief Activist for Embrace Activism, she is a registered yoga teacher. Her students range in age from preschool to senior citizen, from beginner to experienced. She enjoys and is gratified witnessing the transformation yoga brings to her students. Her blog, On & Off the Mat, shares tips, suggestions and articles on health and wellness topics. Visit the website at http://www.EmbraceActivism.com.