Women and Heart Disease: 4 Ways to Lower Your Risk
While nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented, cardiovascular diseases continue to be a woman’s greatest health threat, claiming the lives of one in three women.
It’s the number one killer of women, claiming more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined.
It’s a message the American Heart Association shouts out every February, recognized as American Heart Month, and throughout the year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to help support the important work of the AHA by sponsoring events across the state and amplifying the message to our employees, members and online community.
Prior to Go Red for Women, only 30 percent of women knew that heart disease was their greatest health threat. A decade after Go Red for Women launched, close to 56 percent of women recognized this fact, nearly a 90 percent increase in awareness.
So, now that you know, what can you do to lower your risk? The AHA recommends four simple steps:
- Be aware. Know your numbers (total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index) and talk to your doctor to lower your heart health risk.
- Move more. Federal guidelines and the AHA recommend women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week and perform strength training activities at least two days per week. Make physical activity a priority by joining the #GoRedGetFit team on Facebook and sharing with your friends.
- Eat smart. About 45 percent of U.S. deaths caused by heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes are due to poor dietary habits, such as high sodium intake, high sugary drink consumption and low intake of fruits and vegetables. Find lots of healthy eating tips and recipes over on AHealthierMichigan.org.
- Manage blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, commit to monitoring it regularly through the AHA’s Check. Change. Control. tracker.
Over the years, the AHA has built an army of women willing to share their heart health stories. We recently interviewed three such Michigan-based women over on our sister site, AHealthierMichigan.org. Their stories are very different, but all said advocating for more awareness of how heart disease impacts women has been a powerful part of their journeys.
Read their stories here:
- Ashley’s Story: Facing Open Heart Surgery at 19
- Rosalind’s Story: Cardiac Nurse Loses 140 Pounds to Protect Her Heart
- Susie’s Story: Surviving a “Widowmaker” Heart Attack
Photo credit: Morsa Images