An important element for protecting and promoting a healthy heart (and health in general) is to make it a daily living habit. And a key to breaking bad habits is to convincingly realize and conclude that a positive habit change is necessary to accept and sustain a heart healthy lifestyle – then make the change from bad to good habits and stick to them.
Heart Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Therefore, women must make good decisions about heart health, primarily by choosing a heart healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle elements that directly affect a women’s healthy heart include the following:
- Maintain a heart healthy diet by choosing foods that are low salt or low sodium. Limit foods that have ‘trans fat’ ; and cut back on sugar. Sugar is also labeled as ‘glucose’, ‘fructose’, ‘sucrose’, and ‘corn syrup’.
- Manage your health conditions that affect common health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and get your blood pressure and cholesterol tested.
- Take your medicines as directed by your doctor and do not stop taking your medicines until your doctor says that it is OK.
- Quit smoking because it is common knowledge that smoking is not good for our health and research shows that quitting smoking reduces the risk for a bad heart.
- Engage in appropriate, consistent exercises which will help you to lose weight, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. Doing an aerobic exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes helps your heart work more efficiently.
- Recognize and manage the cause(s) of stress, which is often your body’s response to change. The body reacts to stress by releasing adrenaline that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. Continuous stress can increase heart health problems.
BONUS: Know the signs of a heart attack, which are heavy chest pain, pain in the upper body (arms, neck, back or stomach), shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, unusual tiredness, and feeling dizzy or light headed. Call 911 if you think you are having a heart attack.
Remember, the key to women’s heart health is related to a healthy lifestyle emanating from good daily living habits.