Approximately 35,000 women in the United States have a heart attack each year. However, there is an overall increase in the number of heart attacks that strike women that happen a decade after menopause. According to the Go Red for Women, heart disease is the top killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer.
While menopause doesn’t cause cardiovascular disease, it does mark a time when certain risk factors increase. For instance, the natural hormone estrogen declines during this time, which is believed to be a factor in the increase in heart disease among women who have gone through menopause. As we age, blood pressure starts to creep up as do LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (which are certain types of fats in the blood). In addition, the HDL (good) cholesterol of number often decline or remain the same. Furthermore, the American Heart Association points out that unhealthy habits such as smoking or eating a high-fat diet throughout your life can take a toll on your cardiovascular health.
So what can you do to boost your cardiovascular health? Here are some suggestions:
- Embrace a Mediterranean diet. As I mentioned in recent post, a new large study out of Spain has provided significant support to the idea that eating a Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, the findings of this study were so marked that the researchers ended the study early. The study involved 7,500 people who were divided into three groups. Two of these groups ate a variation of the Mediterranean diet while the third were asked to eat a low-fat diet. During a five-year period, 288 study participants suffered a heart attack or stroke or died from cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that people who ate the Mediterranean diet were as much as 30 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than study participants who were assigned to the general low-fat diet. So what does the Mediterranean diet entail? In the study, participants were asked to eat three servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables daily. In addition, they were to eat fish and legumes (beans, peas and lentils) at least three times a week. They were asked to eat white meat instead of red meat if they drank alcohol, they were asked to drink at least seven glasses of wine a week with their meals. They also were asked to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their intake of dairy products and processed meats.
- Watch your use of salt. A 2012 study out of the University California San Francisco used computer simulations to estimate the benefit of reductions in dietary sodium. The researchers used three different models: a gradual reduction totaling 40 percent over a ten-year period; an instantaneous 40 percent reduction in sodium consumption to 2200 milligrams a day that is sustained for a decade; or an instantaneous reduction to 1500 milligrams of sodium a day that is sustained for 10 years. The researchers found that all three methods consistently showed a substantial health benefit. Their analysis found that the gradual reduction of sodium over a decade would save up to 500,000 people. The instantaneous reductions were projected to save up to 1.2 million people over the 10-year period.
- Try to get 150 minutes of physical activity each week. If you need to lose weight, try to get one hour a day. Try to do aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, dancing or swimming.
It’s really important to take heart health seriously. Try to take these three healthy steps to protect your heart so you can live a long and full life!
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Coxson, P. G., et al. (2012). Mortality benefits from US population-wide reduction in sodium consumption: Projections from 3 modeling approaches. Hypertension.
Go Red for Women. (2012). About heart disease.
American Heart Association. (2013). Menopause and heart disease.
Published On: February 27, 2013