Heart health for women

  • Published
  • By Tyler Patterson
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
Heart disease. Many people think of it as a man's disease, but women can get it too. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States -- making heart health an important issue for women of all ages.

The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. Luckily, the steps people can take to help prevent CAD are effective against other causes of heart disease as well. 

- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthy meals and snack options can help people avoid heart disease. Be sure to eat plenty of fish, poultry, and fresh fruits -- and don't forget the veggies!

- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk for heart disease. A doctor can help you determine whether a person's weight is in a healthy range.

- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help people maintain a healthy weight and help lower their blood pressure and cholesterol. 

- Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk for heart disease and other major illnesses. 

- Limit alcohol use. Alcohol causes high blood pressure. People who do drink alcohol should drink responsibly and in moderation.

Those people with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes can take additional steps to lower their risk for heart disease. 

- Get cholesterol checked. A doctor should test cholesterol levels at least once a year.

- Monitor blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms so be sure to have it checked regularly.

- Manage diabetes. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels closely.

- Take prescribed medication. Those people taking medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes must follow their doctor's instructions and remember to take their medications regularly. Always ask questions.

- Talk with a doctor. Patients and doctors can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Regularly discuss a treatment plan and don't forget to bring a list of questions to doctor's appointments.

For more information on heart health, visit the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org, or search for "Heart Disease" at www.triwest.com/beneficiary.