This has been a very important year for the Texas Heart Institute and the Center for Women’s Cardiovascular Health. We’ve covered a lot of information about the heart and how to care for it, but I want to summarize it in five practical health tips. Put them into practice in the year ahead and make 2013 the best year for your heart.
Follow The Doctor’s Instruction
Women want to do everything, but sometimes we can’t do it alone. We need the help of a doctor and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
Eighty percent of cholesterol levels are determined by genetic factors, so a healthy lifestyle is not always enough to keep your cholesterol levels within the healthy range. If your doctor prescribes cholesterol-lowering medicine, take it!
By taking aspirin, you prevent platelets in your blood from sticking to each other and forming a clot that can be fatal. If your doctor prescribes a treatment that requires you to take a daily aspirin, listen to him! Only take aspirin daily if you’ve checked with your doctor before.
If a medicine makes you feel unwell, work with your doctor to find the right medicine and the right dose. If your doctor won’t help you, change your doctor!
Start by surrounding yourself with supportive people. Studies have shown that women who allow friends and family to participate in lifestyle changes are more likely to be consistent.
Small changes leave a mark. Go up and down the stairs whenever you can, park your car far away from where you are going, and go for a 10-minute walk around the office.
You don’t have to just run on a treadmill.
Make Adjustments To Your Diet
There are no “bad” foods but bad eating habits. It is important that you know what you are feeding your body with, but it is also important that you be consistent. Choose foods that suit you and stick to them.
Foods high in saturated fat — and not high in cholesterol — are those that increase blood cholesterol levels. If you are trying to cut down on saturated fat, opt for margarine over butter, low-fat dairy over whole milk, and lean meats.
Eggs do not raise cholesterol. They contain low amounts of saturated fat, are rich in vitamins, and are part of a healthy diet.
Portions are important: Cut your portion sizes in half and eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Eliminate junk foods from your pantry and treat yourself to eating them just once a month.
Be Prepared For The Changes Of Menopause
The cardiovascular risk doubles or quadruples at least at menopause. Be aware of these changes and be prepared to deal with them.
Be prepared for your cholesterol levels to rise during menopause.
If you have already gone through menopause and are over 50, watch out for symptoms of “broken heart syndrome” or takotsubo cardiomyopathy (a transient illness that sometimes occurs due to deep grief or stress). Some people who experience sudden or prolonged periods of stress can develop this disease, which feels like a heart attack.
Even after menopause, it is never too late to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease with your doctor’s help and healthy lifestyle changes.
You Can Defend Your Health Better Than Anyone
Nearly 7 in 10 women say they prioritize their family’s health needs over their own. I understand that you may be tempted to do the same, but forgetting about your own health is not a good decision. If you really love your family, you need to take care of yourself too so that your loved ones can count on you for many years. You can defend your health better than anyone. Take charge of your health and the well-being of your family.
Find out about your body mass index, your cholesterol levels, and your blood pressure. Keep a record of these values. You can write them down on this worksheet.
If you smoke, stop it. You will probably live longer and earn an average of 4-9 years of life.
If you search the Internet for information on heart health, remember that not all health topic websites are created equal. Consider the origin and age of the information before determining the credibility of what you read on the Internet.
You may also be interested in Six health tips to take better care of older adults