February is the American Heart Month. It is so fitting for the romantics who celebrate Valentine’s Day. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 killer of women. In fact more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. It is estimated that every minute in the United States a woman dies from heart disease, stroke or other form of cardiovascular disease. This woman is someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister or aunt. More than one in three women, including almost half of African American women and about 34% of white women have been diagnosed with Heart Disease.
Some cardiologists agree that 99% of all heart disease can be prevented. Risk factors for heart disease that can be changed or prevented is tobacco smoke, physical activity, obesity and being overweight. It is recommended to eliminate all tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke. Recommendations for physical activity include 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week or a combination of the two. For additional health benefits moderate to high intensity muscle-strengthening activity should be performed 2 or more days per week. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. This is obtained by eating appropriate servings of grain products, fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry or seafood. Also by limiting fats and oils and reducing saturated and trans fats. You should also limit added sugars and follow the recommended daily amounts of sodium. How an individual responds to stress may also be a contributing factor to heart disease. It is important to find ways to relax and de-stress from your daily activities. This may include meditation, yoga or a warm cup of tea. If you drink to relax the recommendation to reduce your risk factor for heart disease is one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
Knowing your risk factors is vital to help eliminate heart disease. It is important to discuss your risk factors, diet and physical activity with your physician. The world is a better place with wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts---women. Take time to take care of yourself.