This post was written in partnership with Penn Heart and Vascular Center
Heart disease claims the life of approximately one woman every minute. Think about that: it takes just a minute for you to send a text to a friend, an email to a co-worker or even make a cup of tea. One life every minute, and it’s too many.
But, there is good news; heart disease can be prevented 80 percent of the time.
There are simple steps a woman can take throughout her life to ensure that her heart health is on the right track.
Know Your Risk
Start with knowing your risk. Take an online risk profiler and/or have a conversation with your physician to help you determine your risk. And while your risk depends on many factors, such as family history, personal history of coexisting conditions like diabetes and lifestyle factors, there are also a few things to keep in mind that specifically pertain to women.
- Do you have a history of preeclampsia in any of your pregnancies? According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, a history of preeclampsia has been known to double the risk for heart disease.
- Are you beyond the age of menopause? About 10 years after the onset of menopause a woman’s heart attack risk spikes. While researchers are still trying to find out exactly why this happens, physiological factors caused by hormonal changes likely play a large role.
A new survey was recently published suggesting that 60 percent of women are unaware that their first heart screening should take place at age 20. This screening, which includes a blood pressure check, cholesterol screening, weight and body mass index (BMI) and glucose levels, can be performed by a primary care physician or a general cardiologist. Having a baseline about your risk is key in the prevention of heart disease.
Take Action with Lifestyle Modifications
Start practicing simple, heart healthy habits while you’re young and continue throughout your life. This can help reduce the risk for heart disease.
From eating healthy to exercising to calming your mind, following a heart healthy lifestyle sets the tone for your heart story. Control the things that you can control. Stay up-to-date with your doctor appointments and do what you can to minimize your risk. Remember, you can still take action on those risk factors that you can’t control, such as finding out any heart disease that runs in your family.
Here is a Guide to Heart Healthy Living that is free and easy to download for more information about screenings and what you can do to remain heart healthy.
Know the Symptoms
It’s especially important to pay attention to your body and feel empowered to seek help if something doesn’t feel right.
In the case of a heart attack, researchers are finding that not only are symptoms different than those seen in men, but heart attacks are undertreated in the female population. While the reason remains to be seen, it is likely that atypical symptoms, waiting longer to get treated and the average, younger age women experience a heart attack, play a role. The typical scene of someone clutching their chest and falling down does happen, but it doesn’t mean it is the norm for women. Symptoms can begin subtly and may be ignored. If something doesn’t feel right or if you experience these symptoms, do not hesitate: call 9-1-1.
Share this infographic with the women in your life, and help a loved one today.