February is American Heart Month. Many women may not be aware that heart disease is a major health threat to women. In fact, it is the biggest threat of all; more than a third of the deaths in American women are due to cardiovascular disease—more than 1,000 per day. In addition, cardiovascular disease currently kills more women than men. To address this problem, cardiologist Syhyla T. High has written a book that is a must-read for any woman interested in heart health: “Why Most Women Die - How Women Can Fight Their #1 Killer: Heart Disease.”
The book is an easy read and written in terms that any woman can understand. Dr. High offers a number of reasons for the lack of awareness of cardiovascular disease in women, including: women are slower to seek treatment; women’s symptoms are different and often both the patient and her physician do not recognize them; and more women begin smoking at a young age and are less inclined to quit as they get older. In addition, just like men, women often are under stress, make poor dietary choices, and do not exercise enough.
Dr. High stresses that 75% of heart disease is preventable. She offers suggestions that can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by avoiding smoking, obesity, and physical activity:
If you are a smoker, stop.
An effective diet is one you can live with for the rest of your life, not a quick fix that is impossible to maintain.
Pay attention to your caloric intake and focus on heart-healthy foods.
Consistent physical activity (a brisk walk) for even 30 minutes can make a difference.
Small changes can add up. You don’t have to accomplish everything at once. But getting started on the road to preventing heart disease is much, much easier than dealing with heart disease.
In her book, Dr. High describes symptoms and tests for heart disease as well as treatment, including dietary supplements. Included, is a chapter on the questions she gets asked the most such as “Is it okay to have sex after a heart attack?”
Have a healthy heart!