Now is the time to review what you know about women and heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. One out of four women in the United States will die from heart disease, while one woman out of thirty dies of cancer. Four out of five women who are 40-60 years of age have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Are You At Risk?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease
- Over the age of 55
- Overweight or obese
- no regular exercise
- Diet high in saturated fat
Some risk factors like age and family history cannot be changed, but all women have the power to make diet and lifestyle choices that can reduce these risks.
Take Care of Your Heart
- Reduce the sources of saturated fat in your diet
- Limit or reduce eating fried foods. You can do this by choosing cooking methods that do not submerge food in oil. Use cooking methods like baking, broiling, and steaming instead.
- Choose low fat or fat free dairy products
- Remove and discard the skin from turkey or chicken to reduce the saturated fat in your diet
- Avoid fats that are solid at room temperature. Change to poly or unsaturated oils like olive oil or canola oil
- Reduce sodium intake by limiting processed foods
Smoking cessation is good for your lungs and your cardiovascular system. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage cells and the vessels that carry blood throughout the body.A lifestyle that includes many risk factors like smoking,making unhealthful food choices, remaining overweight or obese,and not getting regular exercise all add to your risk of developing heart disease. Make a great choice for your health and stop smoking, or reduce the number of times that you smoke, starting today!
Signs and Symptoms
Heart attack symptoms for women can easily be dismissed as stress or the flu. Do not brush off symptoms that may be signs or symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Common signs of heart attack in women include:
- Sweating, nausea, or feeling faint or lightheaded. Feeling pressure or a feeling of fullness in the chest. This may be consistent, or brief and then returning.
- Feeling uncomfortable, achy or sore in either or both arms, neck or jaw pain, back pain, or even stomach discomfort.
- Feeling short of breath, with or without chest pains
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: The Heart Truth: A Campaign for Women About Heart Disease, HHS, NIH, NHLBI
American Heart Association: Know Your Numbers? | Go Red For Women®
Authors: Laura Brubaker, Dietetic Intern with OSU Extension, Wood County. Graduate Student studying Food and Nutrition at Bowling Green State Universtiy and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Wood County.
Reviewer:Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension