Heart disease is most often thought of as a man’s disease. However, this is a common misconception, because heart disease claims more women than men every year.
A woman dies from heart disease nearly every minute in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Heart attacks occur suddenly, but they are usually the result of years of unhealthy living, and 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors.
Here are 10 steps to protect your heart:
- Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and a screening regimen.
- Keep your cholesterol in balance.
- Get screened for diabetes and maintain recommended blood-sugar levels.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If prescribed medication for hypertension, take as directed.
- Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Recommendations can be found at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
- Watch your weight. Waist measurements greater than 40 inches in women may be early indicators of diabetes or heart disease.
- Limit alcohol intake. If you consume alcoholic beverages, set a one-drink-per-day limit.
- Avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke.
- Minimize stress. Take steps to relieve stress through activities you enjoy.
You can take care of your heart by making lifestyle changes now for a healthy tomorrow.