Hearts (Image Credit: Helga Weber)

Women’s Heart Health: The Basics You Need to Know

Hearts (Image Credit: Helga Weber)

Hearts (Image Credit: Helga Weber)

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in women? If you didn’t, you aren’t alone. Surprisingly, a mere 1 in 5 women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat., yet each day heart disease causes the deaths of 2,200 Americans—that’s one death every 39 seconds. Of this total, heart disease takes the life of one woman every minute.

In other words, time to drop everything and read because now is more a good time than ever to start figuring out how you can reduce your risk for heart disease.

What causes heart disease?

Straight from the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system and is usually caused by plaque build-up in the walls of your arteries. The plaque clogs your arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through. If blood flow is completely blocked, this could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Most women don’t know that heart disease also has other forms. It can also result in congestive heart failure, an abnormal rhythm of the heart, or heart valve problems.

So How do I… Not Get it?

Don’t Smoke!

Nicotine is lethal for your heart’s health. Not only does it make your heart rate and blood pressure sky high, but it also damages your blood vessels and makes your blood stickier, making you more prone to clotting up your arteries – not to mention the fact that over 4000 chemicals are found in cigarettes. AHA reported that risk for heart disease and stroke can be reduced by half with just one year of being smoke-free. Here’s a page to help you start off quitting now.

Lower your cholesterol intake!

High cholesterol levels put you at a higher predisposition for heart disease, but don’t worry – it’s easy to lower you cholesterol by making simple, easy changes to your diet. For one, try to start paying attention to the trans-fat content in your foods and try to minimize it. You also want to lower your intake of foods high in saturated fat, like meats with higher fat content and dairy products like butter, cream or cheese.  You can easily find pretty great substitutes for these in your local supermarket. Healthy fats found in nuts and fish are a plus. To add some vitamins to my meals, I like to toss in a cup of vegetables or make sure to eat some fruit after dinner. This is just another simple way you can help reduce your cholesterol on a daily basis.


Exercise is a key activity that works out your heart and builds cardiovascular strength. You may groan when you hear the dreaded ‘physical activity’ prescription, but you can still improve your activity throughout your day without getting on the treadmill. For example, use it as an excuse to indulge that inner shopaholic. Take a trip to the mall and walk there. Another small way to boost your cardio is actually as simple as taking the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator.

To be honest, these suggestions all encompass things that will not only work to improve your heart, but will also be beneficial to your body and mind on the whole.re are a variety of risk factors that you can’t control such as age, gender, and family history that do put you at a higher risk for heart disease. But that’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the factors that you can control to reduce your risk for heart disease as much as possible.

Image courtesy of Helga Weber
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