February is National Heart Month. Heart disease, often thought of to be a problem for men, is surprisingly the most common cause of death for women in the United States. All women are subject to heart disease, no matter the genetic disposition. Fortunately, you can take steps to understand the unique symptoms of heart disease in women and to begin to reduce your risk.
One of the challenges of heart disease in women is how the symptoms are presented. While the most common heart attack symptoms are some kind of pain or pressure in the chest, is it not always severe or even the main symptom. This especially rings true in women. It is also true that many women will have a heart attack without chest pain. Many of those symptoms can include:
Not only can these symptoms appear more subtle, but they also occur more often when women are resting, or even asleep, making it harder to notice.
There are many risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity that affect both women and men. But there are some factors that play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women. For example:
The most important thing you can do for your heart is to keep it pumping — literally. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or some combination thereof. That translates to about 30 minutes a day, five days per week. (That’s only 1.5% of your entire week!)
Once you’ve accomplished this, aim for 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or about 60 minutes a day, five days a week. And try to include two strength training session two or more days/week for an extra kick.
Combining short bursts of intense activity in between lighter more steady-state activity is the best way to get your heart working and keep it going long after the workout is complete. Interval training can also burn more calories than continuous exercise, and help you maintain a healthy weight — a key factor in preventing heart disease.
Forget what you think is boring about healthy eating. Having a diet rich in color and texture is an excellent way to fight off heart disease. Start by adding some of the following:
As a woman, keeping your heart healthy during phases in your life such as pregnancy and menopause is essential. Would you like a little more information on how to stay heart healthy? The professionals at Miami Center of Excellence are here to help you. Discuss your concerns with us at your next appointment, or schedule an appointment online, or over the phone at (305) 515-5425.