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10 Important Tips for Heart Health

February is Heart Health month and today, on national Women in Sport Day, our goal is to bring awareness to the danger of heart disease for women, especially for women ages 40-60 when the risk of heart disease starts to rise. Our hope is to inspire women to take heart-healthy steps.

1/ Know your risk factors for Heart Disease - Heart disease accounts for 45 percent of all deaths in women, far greater than all cancers combined. After menopause, women are more apt to get heart disease, in part because their body’s production of estrogen drops

Important risk factors for heart disease that you can modify:

· High blood pressure

· High blood cholesterol

· Smoking

· Being overweight

· Being physically inactive.

2/ Talk to your doctor about reducing your risk of heart disease. Make sure you follow-up with your health care provider every year for a checkup.

3/ Have your blood pressure checked regularly– Blood pressure is the force your blood makes against your artery walls. If this pressure is too high, over time it can damage your artery walls.

4/ Know your cholesterol numbers. These are types of fat found in your blood and other parts of your body. The body needs small amounts of them to work, but too much can cause a problem. The extra amounts can cling to, and clog, your arteries.

5/ Have your blood sugar level checked for diabetes- Controlling your blood sugar starts with the basics: regular exercise, a balanced diet, and weight control. High blood sugar isn’t good — it could quickly put you on the path to type 2 diabetes.

6/ Do not smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products- Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of heart disease. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and lack of exercise are all risk factors for heart disease but smoking alone doubles the risk of heart disease.

7/ Eat for your heart health- No matter which eating plan you follow, the following guidelines are recommended:

· Total fat intake should be less than 30 percent of total calories daily.

· Saturated fatty acid intake should be less than 10 percent of total calories daily.

· Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake should be no more that 10 percent of total calories daily.

· Monounsaturated fatty acids make up the rest of total fat intake, about 10 to 15 percent of total calories daily.

· Cholesterol intake should be no more than 300 milligrams per day.

· Sodium intake should be no more than 3000 milligrams per day.

· Beware of chemicals in your food like caffeine, MSG, and other food additives.

8/ Get regular physical activity- Exercise has a number of effects that benefit the heart and circulation (blood flow throughout the body). These benefits include improving cholesterol and fat levels, reducing inflammation in the arteries, helping weight loss, and helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open. Studies continue to show that physical activity and avoiding high-fat foods are the two most successful means of reaching and maintaining a heart-healthy. For the greatest overall health benefits, experts recommend that you do 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week and some type of muscle strengthening activity and stretching at least twice a week.

9/ Aim for a healthy weight- Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy weight. The amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks (energy IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for things like breathing, digesting, and being physically active (energy OUT).

10/ Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of seeking medical help immediately- Women’s symptoms may include:

· Upper back or shoulder pain

· Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw

· Pressure or pain in the center of the chest

· Lightheadedness

· Pain that spreads to the arm

· Unusual fatigue for several days

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