Here's the good news—in the past decade 27% fewer women have died from heart disease, and the lion's share of credit really goes to awareness campaigns like Go Red and celebrities like Barbra Streisand who have shined a megawatt spotlight on the issue.
The bad news, though, is far too many women still go undiagnosed until it is too late and often don't present the stereotypical symptoms of heart attack.
Dr. Jennifer Mieres, a cardiologist from the North Shore LIJ Health System, says young women need to start thinking about how they can prevent future heart problems as half of the female victims of heart disease are under 65. The keys to leading a heart-healthy lifestyle include exercising, eating well, not smoking, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress.
While the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week, Dr. Mieres says it's okay to get it in 10-minute increments, whenever you can fit it in—like at your lunch break, in the morning, or before bed. When it comes to eating, try to get as much color as possible on your plate—a variety of vegetables, limit your carbs and have fish two or three times each week.
And, as it turns out, laughter is one of the best medicines. Relaxation, deep breathing and a good joke or two each day will help you reduce stress.
Young women have been shown to have different symptoms of heart disease than just the typical chest pressure. Dr. Mieres says warning signs can include back pain, indigestion, arm pain, and even fatigue.
As always, consult with your doctor—especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
With proper prevention and heart healthy living, heart disease is preventable 80% of the time.
That's all the reason we need to get started right now. For more information, visit GoRedForWomen.org or facebook.com/GoRed.
- Heart & Vascular Disorders
- Barbra Streisand