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Important heart health facts for women


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    Important heart health facts for women

    Women take care of every heart around, from parents, siblings, boy friends, husbands, in laws, kids et al... but through all this they forget about their own hearts.


    Cardiovascular diseases are the commonest cause of death across the world, including India. In India, heart disease accounts for nearly 19% of all deaths. Nearly 32.8% of deaths in urban India, in the age group 25-69 years, are due to heart disease.

    Contrary to what many believe, women are as prone to heart disease as men. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases in women and the youth is on the rise in India. This can be attributed to the lifestyles and dietary changes in the modern day scenario, as well as the age old issue of plain neglect and unawareness of what being heart healthy really means.

    Urban Indians eat more refined foods and lead more sedentary lives than ever before. Contributory factors are imbalanced diets with high cereal and refined carbohydrates and fats, stressful careers, smoking and drinking, and lack of exercise. Further, post-menopausal women are at a higher risk as they tend to ignore the need for regular screening.

    Earlier perceptions regarding heart disease between genders, suggested that women's hearts were less likely than men's to lose ability to pump blood after a heart attack; also, female heart patients were less likely to present the usual symptoms of obstructive coronary artery disease. Even today, women face heart-related oxygen deprivation and subsequent damage to the heart mostly due to blocks in small blood vessels rather than major arteries.

    "The motto should be "Eat right, Eat light and Exercise for at least 30-40 minutes daily for 5 days a week," says Dr. Kamal Deep Singh, consultant cardiologist, Columbia Hospital, Gurgaon. "Women with breathlessness and discomfort in the chest, especially if they are hypertensive and/or diabetic and have high cholesterol, should go for a check up. I have seen many cases of working women with the same condition," adds Dr Kamal.

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    Re: Important heart health facts for women

    Heart health facts you should be concerned about:

    - Heart disease is the number one killer of women.
    - Heart disease claims more women's lives than the next seven leading causes of death combined.
    - Risk factors for heart disease affect women differently.
    - Women with heart disease may present different symptoms than men.
    - Women are often misdiagnosed and undertreated.
    - These important differences in heart disease have resulted in differences in outcomes. Over the past three decades, death from heart disease has declined significantly more for men than for women.

    Reduce carb intake: A diet high in carbohydrates contributes significantly to heart disease. Research has found out precisely how cornflakes, white bread, french fries and similar foods containing high amounts of carbohydrates aggravate the probability of a heart disease. Arterial stress was observed in people who consumed foods with a high glycemic index such as cornflakes, sugar and french fries. It was discovered that foods with a high glycemic index made the brachial arteries swell for many hours.

    - Cut bad fat- like butter and ghee.
    - Meat, poultry, fish and eggs have high protein but have high cholesterol too. Consume in moderation.
    - Skimmed milk in place of whole milk.
    - Skinless chicken breast and fish are better protein choices for non vegetarians as they are rich in omega fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides and cut risk of sudden cardiac death.
    - Legumes are rich in protein and have no cholesterol and can be substituted for animal protein.
    - Eat fruits and vegetable as they are rich in fiber, which reduces cholesterol.
    - Whole grains such as ragi and jowar are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
    - Polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
    - Flax seeds, flax seed oil and walnuts are vegan-friendly food sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sesame seed butter are all food sources of polyunsaturated fats.


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    Re: Important heart health facts for women

    Stop smoking: Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. The American Heart Association has named cigarette smoking as the most dangerous of the modifiable risk factors. Overall, smokers experience a 70% greater death rate from heart and blood vessel disease than non-smokers. Heavy smokers (twenty or more cigarettes per day) have a death rate two to three times greater than nonsmokers.

    Exercise regularly: A lot is said about the benefits of exercise. All you need is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, every day or at least five times a week, that keeps your heart at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. For adults that is about 110 beats per minute. Walking fast is helpful, but not a leisurely stroll. The best thing is to jog or even run. Interval training has a number of benefits as well. This is one of the simplest and most powerful things one can do to keep the heart healthy.

    Reduce stress: More and more evidence suggests a relationship between the risk of cardiovascular disease and environmental and psychosocial factors. These factors include job strain, relationship issues and social isolation. Acute and chronic stress may affect factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating
    .
    Try to consciously observe when you are getting stressed and take steps to relax yourself. Deep breathing helps. Close your eves and take a deep breath. Inhale for 4-5 seconds and slowly exhale. Do this 3-4 times whenever you feel you are stressed.

    Regular checkups: Based on your family history, age and lifestyle, you may have to take additional care and frequent check-ups for your heart. Ask your doctor to check your cholesterol levels, to ensure that there is the right balance between LDL and HDL levels. Also have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is also a major cause for heart disease.

    Overall, maintain a healthy weight. Weighing more than 30 percent over your ideal weight can double your risk for developing heart disease. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Eat a lot of brightly colored vegetables, fruits and whole grain. Avoid foods rich in sugar.

    Target certain numbers to track your heart health. You can learn a lot about your heart health by looking at a few numbers that can be tested easily by a physician. According to the American Heart Association, women should aim for the following numbers:
    (via)

    - Total cholesterol—less than 200 mg/dL
    - LDL "bad" cholesterol—less than 100 mg/dL for most people, optimally less than 80 mg/dL
    - HDL "good" cholesterol—50 mg/dL or higher
    - Triglycerides—less than 150 mg/dL
    - Blood pressure—less than 130/80 mmHg, optimally less than 120/80 mmHg
    - Fasting glucose—less than 100 mg/dL
    - Body mass index (BMI)—less than 25
    - Waist circumference—35 inches or less


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