Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men. For such a common illness, there’s an alarming lack of basic knowledge surrounding it. If you were to quiz the three people sitting nearest to you about them, the symptoms, realities, and contributors, they would likely come up blank. It’s due to the formation of a waxy substance within the walls of the arteries. This is more commonly known as plaque. The build up of this eventually leads to the arteries narrowing, and hardening. Heart disease is mistakenly gendered, with the common assumption being that the primary or only victims are men. That’s just not true —illness doesn’t discriminate. Women are just as much at risk, and must prioritise their health just as much too. However, women have different causes for heart disease in comparison to men. The contributing risk factors for women are primarily seen to be high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol levels, mental stress, smoking, physical inactivity, and pregnancy related hypertension. A more sentimental, but nonetheless lethal, syndrome is also behind heart failure. Broken Heart Syndrome occurs during extremely stressful situations, and causes temporary but severe heart failure. Some common autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis can also predispose women to various heart diseases, which is why women with these conditions are advised to get screened more often.
It’s Never Too Late To Start Looking After Your Hearts Health
1. Tame Your Stress
Research conducted at the University of California’s psychiatric department proved that people who feel chronic or permanent stress at their places of work, or even at home, are more than two times likely to suffer a heart attack. Moreover, suffering from depressed raises the risk of heart disease by four fold.
2. Solid Sleep
Research at Harvard Medical School discovered that insufficient amounts of sleep increase the production of inflammatory white blood cells that contribute to developing plaque in blood vessels. This causes them to narrow and harden. Sleep deprivation and fragmented sleep can both lead to heart related issues in the future if not dealt with.
3. Quit Smoking
Female smokers have a higher risk of heart disease than male smokers. According, to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, smoking causes the thickening and narrowing of blood vessels. It also lowers the level of good cholesterol, and makes the blood sticky. In turn, this is what makes the blood more likely to clot, which can ultimately block blood flow to the heart and brain.
4. Physical Activity
This one’s a no brainer — it’s everyones go to piece of advice, but if only it was as easy to adopt. You don’t have to make a complete 180 degree lifestyle change. If joining the gym was that simple, we’d all be beach body ready throughout the year. Take baby steps to becoming more active, and getting your heart rate up. Scientists have found that being immobile for extended periods of time can adversely affect your hearts health. If you notice you’ve been sitting for thirty minutes at a stretch, remind yourself to get up and stretch your legs out. If you’re willing to adopt a more frequent fitness routine, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week vigorous intensity aerobic activity or combination of both spread throughout the week. You can slowly work towards increasing your level of intensity gradually.
5. Food For The Heart
It’s astounding how much you can achieve in the kitchen. It might not seem as intensive or stark as beginning an exercise routine, but the food you consume alone can make a world of difference to your health. Try to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). For every 10% drop in your cholesterol levels, the risk of a heart attack falls by 20% – 30%. Try to choose healthy fats. This means looking out for unsaturated fats, which are mainly found in plant based foods like olives and beans. Fatty fish like salmon also provides a substantial serving of healthy fat, so try to eat more fish. Twice a week should do the trick. Consuming whole grain breads can make you feel filler for longer, bring more fibre into your diet, all the while keeping your blood sugar levels in check.