February is American Heart Month, and only 1 in 5 women are aware that heart disease is their greatest health risk. Heart disease can creep up on women who are typically so busy taking care of everyone else, they forget about themselves.
Heart disease kills more women than all types of cancer combined. It’s not just a “man’s disease.” More women die of heart disease than men every single year. Women should know that heart disease affects men and women differently. After menopause, our risk factors go way up, and we have different symptoms than men. Women can experience a heart attack with no chest pressure which can cause us to dismiss or ignore other symptoms such as shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, back pain or flu-like symptoms.
What can we do? First things first... know your risk factors! Nearly 80% of all women have at least one of the following risk factors for heart disease:
- High fat, unbalanced diet
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of heart disease
Once you know which of these risk factors applies to you, you can take steps to modify the ones within your control. Identify your high risk behaviors and begin to develop new habits. If you are obese (BMI over 30), talk with your doctor about a healthy eating plan to get your BMI lower. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol, and take steps to reduce your numbers if they are in a dangerous range. If you spend most of your day sitting, get out and take a 20-30 minute walk each day. You can also check out our Ideal Protein plan if losing weight will help reduce your risk factors.
Most importantly, communicate with your doctor and be an advocate for your own health! Together, you can reduce your risk factors. If you have any concerns, feel free to contact The Woman’s Clinic. We want you to live your most healthy life!