Focus on Women Heart-Healthy Living Our Experts

Ladies: Follow these 10 steps to a healthier heart

Dr. Pascha Schafer
Written by Dr. Pascha Schafer

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:

  1. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and a screening regimen.
  2. Keep your cholesterol in balance.
  3. Get screened for diabetes and maintain recommended blood-sugar levels.
  4. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If prescribed medication for hypertension, take as directed.
  5. Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
  6. Maintain a healthy diet. Recommendations can be found at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
  7. Watch your weight. Waist measurements greater than 40 inches in women may be early indicators of diabetes or heart disease.
  8. Limit alcohol intake. If you consume alcoholic beverages, set a one-drink-per-day limit.
  9. Avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke.
  10. 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.

The 11th Step

If you need help with any of these steps, call 706-721-2426 to make an appointment with Augusta University Heart and Cardiovascular Services.

About the author

Dr. Pascha Schafer

Dr. Pascha Schafer

Dr. Schafer completed her undergraduate degree at Augusta State University - now Augusta University - before earning her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). She continued her training at MCG with an internship and residency in internal medicine, where she also served as chief medical resident. She went on to complete her fellowship in cardiology at Wake Forest University Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C.

In 2012, Dr. Schafer returned to Augusta to join the faculty at what is now the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. She practices invasive, non-interventional cardiology and is board certified in cardiovascular disease and echocardiography. She is currently the medical director for the cardiac care unit at Augusta University Health, and her areas of clinical focus include cardiac intensive care, echocardiography and general cardiology in the in- and outpatient setting. She has a strong interest in medical education, and serves as the associate program director for the internal medicine residency program. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and the American College of Cardiology, where she is active at the state and national level, particularly regarding healthcare advocacy. She is also the proud mother of four beautiful daughters.

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