Over 80% of Canadian women have one or more heart disease risk factors (and almost half have three or more!) yet most of us are shockingly unaware that we are at risk. Did you know that 80% of heart disease is preventable? Here’s how:
♥ Stop smoking – all smoking! Learn more about the effect of those public smoking bans on our health.
♥ Maintain a healthy weight (waist measurement <35″ for women)
♥ Keep blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol*under strict control
♥ Exercise at least 30 minutes every single day – yes, EVERY day! As cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola likes to say:
“You only need to excercise on the days you plan to eat!”
♥ Get a good night’s sleep! Sleep problems have been linked to increased cardiovascular risk.
♥ Talk to your doctor about screening tests for heart disease if you have a family history (Mum or sister < age 65, Dad or brother < age 55 when they had a cardiac event of some kind) or if you’ve ever had pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia, or if you have ever been told you are pre-diabetic or diabetic
♥ Learn how to reduce and manage chronic stress (and don’t forget to b-r-e-a-t-h-e…)
♥ Educate yourself about your own heart health. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe free to get Heart Sisters email updates about emerging news on women’s heart health and each new post here (just look at this page sidebar to your right and click Follow Heart Sisters, or click the Twitter icon to follow me there!)
♥ Do activities that can improve heart health throughout your day: gardening, walking, stair climbing – even doing housework!
♥ Stop being what we call a Type E-personality: “Everything to Everybody!” This is especially true for women, who are often the nurturers and caretakers of both friends and family members, sometimes at the expense of their own health. See also: Are You a Priority in your Own Life?
♥ Join WomenHeart to receive monthly newsletters and research updates about women’s heart health. Membership in the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is FREE.
♥ Subscribe to Heartbeats, the weekly e-mail health reminders with great tips about women’s heart health.
♥ Take this ‘Heart Truth’ quiz to evaluate your own unique risk profile.
♥ Test your Cardiovascular Age with this quiz from McGill University’s Cardiovascular Health Improvement Project.
* CONTROL YOUR CHOLESTEROL
Depending on other risk factors you may also have, Health Canada recommends the following cholesterol target goals:
- Total cholesterol: < 5.2 ( > 6.2 = too high)
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: < 3.5 ( > 4 = too high)
- HDL (good) cholesterol: > 1
For Americans, units for cholesterol levels are mg/dL while in Canada, we use mmol/L. The rough conversion factor is 40. To convert from American to Canadian units, just divide by 40. Find out more about good, bad and ugly cholesterol from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Note: information on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.