Heart diseases kill more women than you would think. With age, the risk of heart problems increases but you are unlikely to act on them. The choices you make in your early years determine your heart health in the later years significantly. Nothing makes more sense than the axiom - prevention is better than cure.
There are several instances when a cure isn’t possible at all with heart problems. Therefore, start taking small steps toward reducing the stress on your cardiovascular system. Up to 4 heart diseases out of 5 are preventable. There are more symptoms of heart attack for women than there are for men. Several symptoms manifest themselves when women are resting or even asleep.
The best way to avoid heart disease is to include exercise in your daily routine in addition to eating healthy. Need both services on a single app? Download FITPASS and workout at premium gyms and fitness centers near you. Get FITFEAST, an in-app supportive service that puts you in touch with expert nutritionists and helps you keep track of your health.
Heart Health Tips for Women (Age 20-60)
The 20s and 30s
The body is better enabled to deal with problems such as artery-clogging due to cholesterol buildup in your twenties and thirties. A plentiful amount of estrogen in the body keeps the blood cholesterol levels low and the arteries flexible.
However, pregnancy can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Preterm birth leads to pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (preeclampsia) or gestational diabetes. Preeclampsia poses a four-fold risk of stroke, heart disease, and death due to cardiovascular disease in the future. The risk persists even if the blood pressure normalizes post-pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes in the future, which makes you vulnerable to heart attacks.
What you can do
- See a doctor – if you have developed any of the previously stated problems, you must see a physician at the earliest after the baby is born. You can see a cardiologist as well to track the risk factors such as blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure
- Eat well - include fruits, veggies, and lean proteins like fish, whole grains, and unsaturated fats like olive oil in your diet. Keep your arteries clear by eating healthy in your twenties and thirties for a healthier future
- Get fit – these are the best decades when it comes to fitness as the body responds well. Indulging in aerobic exercise for 2-3 hours every week in addition to strength training at least twice a week is essential. Just moderate amounts of exercise now can help avoid problems later. It can be difficult if you’re a newlywed and trying to build a career but health happens to be equally important if not more
The risk of heart disease or other related problems is low during this period unless you hit menopause in your 40s. However, a busy work schedules and family life can make you ignore your health. Looking after kids and parents takes up a lot of time.
What you can do
Schedule periodic checkups with your doctor to keep a check on blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol. Take whatever steps necessary to improve any risk factors such as an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol or blood pressure. Start eating healthy and exercising more in addition to taking any meds prescribed by the doctor.
The risk of heart disease rises once you hit menopause, which includes most women in this age group. LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels along with blood pressure increase as the estrogen levels decrease. And as the HDL (good) cholesterol decreases, the arteries start clogging up.
What you can do
- Avoid hormone therapy - because only naturally produced estrogen can protect against heart disease. Pills containing estrogen can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. According to research, hormone therapy doesn’t reduce the risk of heart disease after menopause
- See where you stand – get the possible risks of heart disease assessed. The thing about heart disease is that you can have it without having any obvious symptoms. Get yourself evaluated by a cardiologist and take measures accordingly
- CT Scan – consult your doctor about a low-dose non-contrast scan of your heart. It will reveal the plaque deposits in your arteries if any. You’re at a high risk of heart disease if you get a high calcium score
You are at the highest risk of heart disease at this age. Within the next 20 years of your tuning 60, up to 70% of women are prone to get heart disease. However, like younger ages, you can do something about it.
What you can do
- Keep exercising – options will be fewer but the benefits of exercising are too many to be ignored. Strength training helps control the risk factors of heart disease along with keeping your bones strong. In case you don’t exercise, you must start at the earliest
- Monitor the risk factors – it wouldn’t hurt you to keep a tab on your cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, BMI, fasting blood glucose level, etc. Visit your doctor regularly to keep the levels in an ideal range and manage all the risk factors. Make sure that the medicines work as intended, or change your doctor
- Do not ignore small symptoms – heart disease manifests sneaky symptoms such as tightness, discomfort, or pressure in the chest, which is also known as angina. This is usually experienced while exercising or if you’re stressed. Seek medical treatment at the earliest to avoid the possibility of getting a heart attack
So it comes down to exercising, eating healthily, and keeping a tab on the levels of the risk factors. Do this, and you won’t have to worry about heart diseases.