The following lyrics from Ingrid Michaelson’s ‘Breakable’ spurred me to write this article:
“Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts? Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts. So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mass…”
While I was in that ‘songs make you think’ mode, this somehow translated into the question “How protected are our hearts?” As women, most of us do not actually know what heart risks we face and how we can help to reduce the risks. Just so we can understand how fragile our hearts are, let us compare it to cancer. Heart disease kills more women over 65 than all the cancers combined, and women are six times more likely to get heart disease than they are to get breast cancer.
In my quest to promote awareness for women to begin doing all they can to protect their hearts, I will start with knowledge of the symptoms of various heart diseases.
Knowing the symptoms of heart conditions can help save your life or the life of a woman around you. Heart disease (though more common in older women) affects women of all ages. The symptoms in women are sometimes different from the symptoms in men, so it pays to know those that relate to you:
Unusual tiredness or faintness
Pain in your upper body i.e. neck, back, shoulders, chest
Skipped or irregular heart beats
The mistake most of us make is that when we are young we think we are invincible. And then when we get old enough to realize we are pretty fragile, it is usually too late to do much about it. Here are a few steps you can start taking now that could have a positive impact on your heart later.
Know your body: Pay attention to your body. Know the symptoms of heart diseases in women. Do not be afraid to go to the doctor for a check-up if you feel something is irregular.
Cardiovascular exercise: Exercises like running, walking, cycling, swimming, aerobics, and even gardening are great for your heart. Do these for about 30 minutes 3 times a week and you will be protecting your heart for years to come.
Proper nutrition: For heart health, we need to lower our bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is contained in food like butter and deep fried foods, while good cholesterol is contained in food like nuts and fish. If you buy packaged foods, make sure you pay attention to the cholesterol and trans-fat levels on the label. Additionally, keep alcohol levels moderate. One glass of wine per day can help protect your heart, but going way above that can pose a risk for women.
Cigarette smoke: Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood forcing your heart to work harder to pump more oxygen. So even second-hand smoke, tobacco-less smoke or social smoking puts you at risk for heart diseases.
Heart diseases are usually preventable. We just need to become aware of the dangers early, take note of the symptoms, and start taking steps towards keeping our bodies healthy.
Writer: Suzanne Brume blogs about exercise and nutrition at http://eightsandweights.blogspot.com. For
more tips, follow her on twitter @eightsnweights*
Photo Credit: Photodisc