Women’s Health – Straight to the Heart

01310574216_women-marathon.jpgIf you think men are more vulnerable to coronary disease than women, think again. Don’t wait for a warning sign – start looking after your heart today.

Statistics show one in three Australian women is at risk of heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Worse still, two thirds of women who die from a sudden heart attack have had no previous symptoms, according to The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health. Age, smoking, a lack of exercise, weight gain, diabetes and a poor diet all increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, as can family history.

The good news is that simple lifestyle changes can lower your chances of having a stroke or heart attack, says Professor Susan Davis, chair of Women’s Health at Monash University in Melbourne.

Regular exercise
Regular exercise is an extremely important factor in women’s health. Daily exercise can help control your weight and sugar levels, strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure, raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. “Women need to do moderate, endurance-type exercise for at least 40 minutes, three times a week, and include more activity in their everyday lives,” says Professor Davis.

Healthy heart diet
Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables that are high in antioxidants and vitamins such as folate is also crucial for heart health. There is evidence that replacing unhealthy fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oily fish, leafy plants, canola and linseed oil can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Give Up Smoking
Giving up smoking will also improve your heart health. Nearly 40 per cent of smoking related deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease, according to NSW Health. This is because smoking increases an artery-clogging process called atherosclerosis.

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