Unfortunately, all women face the risk of developing heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in both men and women, and one in four deaths are caused by heart disease (via CDC). Age and hereditary cannot be changed. However, there are definitely some major preventable factors that foster this fatal disease. SheKnows collected seven of these top risk factors to help spread awareness and lessen your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Risk factor #1: Smoking
Smoking cigarettes tops the list as the most important preventable major risk factor of cardiovascular disease. And not only does smoking do damage to your health, your secondhand smoke harms nonsmokers, including infants and children. According to the American Heart Association, there are nearly 440,000 smoking related deaths every year. Instead of becoming one of the fatal statistics, get involved in a smoking cessation program — you’ll be reducing your own risk of heart disease as well as helping to improve the health of your loved ones.
Risk factor #2: Inactivity
Research has shown that acheiving just a moderate level of fitness can reduce your risk of heart disease and extend your life. Further, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level — all factors in improving your heart-health. Make your 30 minutes fun — take your dog for a walk, play at the park with your kids, meet a friend at the gym for a fitness class — so you are more likely to make exercise a habit. If needed, start slow with 10 minutes a day and gradually build your stamina up to attain 30 minutes. You’ll feel better, look better, and improve the quality — and length — of your life.
Risk factor #3: Diet
Following a healthy diet will decrease your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure as well as help you maintain a healthy weight. Be sure your diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes and healthy fats like omega-3s and monounsaturated fat. Avoid foods high in saturated and trans fat and limit your intake of fast food or processed foods. Connect with a registered dietician or nutritionist to design a healthy — yet delicious and satisfying — diet plan that will decrease your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
Risk factor #4: Stress
Stress on some level is a daily part of life. The way you handle stress, however, makes a significant difference in how stress affects your health and your risk for heart disease. If you deal with stress through overeating, smoking or drinking in excess, or neglecting your health in other ways, you are putting yourself at risk for weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attack or stroke. Learning to manage your stress or decrease your daily stressors can help you make healthier lifestyle decisions and improve the quality of your life.