Roadmap to a Healthy Heart
Let’s say life is a road trip. And, let’s say a healthy heart is one of the major destinations. Today, women have better directions than ever before—plus an improved GPS system.
Follow the Road Signs
Heart disease—not breast cancer—is the number-one threat to a woman’s life. And, while your risk may be low when you’re young, it’s your lifetime risk that you should consider.
To keep you heading in the right direction, follow these targeted heart disease prevention guidelines. Read the road signs and sample a few of the recommendations:
Move it and lose it. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week to improve your health. Walk around your neighborhood, use the stairs, ride a bike—it all adds up to lower heart risks.
Rev up on fish. Eat salmon, tuna or mackerel at least twice a week.
Slow down on fats, salt, and alcohol. You can lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol by cutting saturated fat to 5 or 6 percent of your daily calories, and trans fats to as low as possible.
Limit sodium to no more than one teaspoon per day, and alcohol to one drink.
Quit smoking. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement, counseling, and medication to help you quit. Over time, you will gradually have the same risk for heart disease as a nonsmoker.
Pass on folic acid, hormone therapy, and antioxidants as preventives. These won’t protect you from heart disease.
Check Your Numbers
What’s your risk for heart attack or stroke?
The American Heart Association recommends getting some specific tests to get a picture of your heart health. Work with your doctor to follow this testing schedule:
Blood pressure: Each regular health care visit or at least once every two years starting at age 20
Cholesterol: Every four to six years starting at age 20
Weight/body mass index: All doctor visits
Waist circumference: As needed
Blood glucose: Every three years starting at age 45
Talk with your doctor about your risk. Together you can decide how you can best take charge of your heart health.
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.