Cardiovascular health, heart attacks, and so forth are considered by many to be pretty much a male problem. But numerous studies and have shown that heart health is not just a “guy thing” – women need to be concerned about their cardiovascular health as well.
In fact, some sources say that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States!
Here are four facts and insights into women’s heart health – what you need to know.
1. Contraceptive Use
Studies have shown that the use of oral contraceptives increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. In younger women, sources say, the risk is lower than in older women. So if you are over the age of 35, you might want to look into a different form of birth control if possible.
2. Risk Factors
Who is at risk? You may think you’re not at risk because you’re not overweight, or you don’t smoke, or you exercise regularly. While having more than one risk factor certainly raises your risk, according to experts, having even one of the risk factors – such as smoking or being overweight – increases your risk of heart disease significantly. Here are some of the lifestyle choices that may raise your risk for developing heart disease:
- Inactivity or not enough exercise
- Poor diet, especially one high in saturated fat and low on fresh, whole foods
- Ethnicity (African American and Hispanic women are at particular risk for heart disease, according to experts)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
3. Low Vitamin D
The more this vitamin gets researched, the more important it seems. Studies have shown that women over 30 with low levels of vitamin D were 25% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Getting plenty of safe sun exposure through smart sunbathing boosts vitamin D levels, as does taking oral supplements.
4. Get Tested
There are some specific tests that will provide important information about your risk of heart attack. Here are some of them.
* Lipoprotein levels – When you get tested for your lipoprotein levels, it means you’re getting tested for cholesterol (both the “good” and “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides. The levels of these substances in your blood affect your risk for heart disease.
* Blood pressure – Getting your blood pressure taken is quite easy, and it can show you not only if you have hypertension, but also if you are at risk for developing it. Sources recommend getting your blood pressure checked at least every other year.
* BMI (Body Mass Index) – A BMI test helps determine your weight in relation to your height, as well as waist measurement. Belly fat can raise your risk of heart disease, as can an imbalanced fat-to-height ratio.
Looking after your heat is essential if you want to remain healthy for years to come.
Photo credit: SummerTomato