Women: What you need to know about heart disease
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, yet can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes.
Misconceptions surrounding heart disease and women are numerous and damaging. Have you heard “heart disease is for men” or “only old people get heart disease”? False and false.
Myth 1: Heart disease is a “man’s disease.”
Fact: Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease claims the lives of 1 in 3 women. That’s roughly one death each minute.
Myth 2: Heart disease only affects older folks.
Fact: Heart disease affects women of all ages. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. And while the risks do increase with age, things like overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life. But even if you lead a completely healthy lifestyle, being born with an underlying heart condition can be a risk factor.
Now for the solutions.
A few lifestyle changes can help prevent deaths by heart disease. They are:
- If you smoke, quit. If you don’t, keep it that way. Did you know our great state helps residents quit smoking for free? Learn more here.
- Manage your blood sugar.
- Get your blood pressure checked and under control.
- Talk to your family. Learn your family history and know your risks. Find out more about why knowing your family history is important and check out a free tool that can help you track your family’s health here.
- Lower your cholesterol.
- Get active and exercise. Too busy to join a gym? Check out our tips for starting small.
- Pick healthy foods and avoid the bad choices. Find My Southern Health’s healthy recipes here.
The Women’s Heart Program at Vanderbilt hosts a monthly support group on the second Saturday of each month to provide women living with heart disease peer-to-peer support, information and encouragement. For more information, call (615) 936-4437.