Calling All Women: Take Steps Against Heart Disease

By: Diabetes Info

Charlie's Angels star Kate Jackson underwent adult cardiac surgery to correct a hole in her heart. Oscar-winner Patty Duke lives with coronary heart disease. Comedic actress Phyllis Diller suffered a heart attack in 1999, and celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates lives with tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat. Long thought of as a man's disease, heart disease is beginning to gain exposure from female celebrities. And what they're saying may surprise you - heart disease is a reality for women, too.

Heart disease affects more than 8 million women in the U.S., killing 267,000 each year.* It's the leading cause of death among women - even six times deadlier than breast cancer.* Being aware of the risks and taking steps toward better health is vital for women in battling this potential killer.

Be Heart Smart

Some factors of heart disease are uncontrollable - a family history of heart disease increases your risk, as does age (women's risk increases after age 55). The good news is that a number of other factors can be controlled by making smart choices on a daily basis. In fact, living a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of heart disease by 82%.** Take action for better heart health now by following these tips.

Keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check. If your numbers are high, a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise could help lower them. Contact your healthcare provider to assess your risk and determine an individualized course of action.

Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight puts strain on your heart and increases your risk for heart disease, even if you have no other risk factors.

Know your risk for diabetes. Two out of three people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke.*** Your chance of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood increases if you are overweight, physically inactive or have a family history of diabetes.

Get regular physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-level activity on most (or all) days of the week. Three 10-minute periods will work, too.

Eat a heart-healthy diet. Fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains will do your body - and heart - good.

Quit smoking. After kicking the habit for just one year, your risk for heart disease drops by more than half.**

You don't need to be a celebrity to raise awareness of heart disease. Start taking care of yourself now with a healthful lifestyle and regular screenings. And encourage those in your life - both men and women - to do the same.

* Source: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

** Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

*** Source: American Diabetes Association.

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