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  • Glen Providence

Heart Health: Tips for Women's Health

February is American Heart Month. President Lyndon B. Johnson, among the millions of people in the country who'd had heart attacks, issued the first proclamation in 1964. Since then, U.S. presidents have annually declared February American Heart Month. It is a perfect time to pay special attention to heart health, particularly for women. Cardiovascular disease is a major health concern for women. Heart disease is often perceived as a health concern predominantly affecting men, but the reality is quite different. Women are equally susceptible to heart disease, and it remains a leading cause of mortality among women worldwide. However, the symptoms and risk factors for heart disease in women can be distinct, making early detection challenging. This article aims to shed light on the nuances of heart disease in women, emphasizing the importance of awareness, prevention, and timely intervention.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, are responsible for 35% of all female deaths globally. In many cases, women may not recognize the symptoms or attribute them to other health issues, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. The symptoms of heart disease in women can be subtler than those experienced by men, making it crucial to recognize warning signs early. Women may not always experience the classic chest pain associated with a heart attack. Instead, symptoms may include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back. As a result, these symptoms might be dismissed or overlooked, delaying proper diagnosis and treatment.

Drinking, smoking, and recreational drug use is linked to premature heart disease in young people, particularly younger women. Heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also lead to cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscles and an irregular heartbeat. Smoking is a greater risk factor for women than it is for men. Any amount of smoking, even occasional smoking, can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels and cause plaque to build up in the arteries. Some additional simple steps everyone can take to improve heart health include healthy eating. Begin by choosing whole grains, including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, selecting minimally processed foods and reducing your sodium intake. Improve your physical activity. Strive to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Move often throughout the day and stand whenever possible. Engage in moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week. Lastly pay attention to your stress level. Plan ahead so much as you can so you don’t have to rush. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Practice mindfulness as a way to reduce stress. By fostering awareness, promoting preventive measures, we can empower women to take charge of their heart health.

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