Each October, millions of Americans don their favorite pink outfits to raise awareness for breast cancer. But, did you know heart attacks kill six times as many women as breast cancer? This February, the Tallahassee Memorial Heart & Vascular Center is challenging Tallahassee to “go red” and educate the community about heart disease in women.
One in three women die of heart disease or stroke. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women. Even greater than all forms of cancer combined. Currently, eight million women are living with heart disease in the U.S.
Luckily, there are many things that can be done to help stop and prevent this deadly disease. Here are simple lifestyle changes you can make to be heart healthy.
1. Get Moving
Don’t have time to workout at the gym? That’s okay. If you incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into your schedule four days a week, your heart will benefit. So skip the elevator and take the stairs, tend to your garden or go for a walk around the block with your dog.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol is a great start. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other plant-based foods into your diet.
A healthy diet will also help you to manage your cholesterol and blood pressure, especially when paired with exercise. According to Liz Ford, ARNP, Nurse Practitioner at the Tallahassee Memorial Lipid Center, “controlling bad cholesterol and knowing your LDL goals could be one of the most important steps in preventing heart disease and blockages in your arteries.” For example, if you have evidence for heart disease, then your LDL goal is less than 100 mg/dL and even in some women, this goal may be less than 70 mg/dL.
3. Say “No” to Tobacco
Smoking or using tobacco is the most significant risk factor for developing heart disease. The good news is that once you quit, your risk of heart disease drops to almost that of a nonsmoker in about five years.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Shedding a few pounds will help your heart. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, weight loss can also help to improve those risk factors.
Everyone experiences stress and anger, but if it happens a lot, that’s a problem. Look for ways to reduce stress in your life, such as exercising, volunteering or laughing more.
Although more men have heart disease, more women die of the disease each year. Heart attack symptoms can be different for women, including chest pain, burning sensation, cold sweats, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness and extreme fatigue. “By knowing the signs of heart attack in women, you can act quickly if you or a loved one experiences these symptoms,” said Ivette Berry, RN, Chest Pain Center Coordinator at the Tallahassee Memorial Heart & Vascular Center. “When it comes to a heart attack, minutes matter so call 9-1-1 for the fastest medical care.”