GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Heart disease can happen at any age, which is why Go Red For Women wants you to consider your heart health at every age. The good news is that 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action. Education means understanding the numbers that effect heart health, which are: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Body Mass Index (BMI). Action means encouraging women to make simple lifestyle changes like eating better, and getting active.
Tips for the 20s
- Start practicing heart-healthy habits in your 20s, including healthy eating and fitness habits.
- Know the numbers that impact your heart health. This will make it easier to spot a possible change in the future.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Talk to your doctor about birth control and heart disease so that you can make a fully informed decision based on the risks and benefits. Oral contraceptives along with other birth control options can cause an increase in your blood pressure.
Thriving in the 30s
- Work to reduce your stress. Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls.
- Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Continue your healthy eating and fitness habits.
Flying into the 40s
- Get regular checkups. In addition to blood pressure checkups and other heart-health screenings, you should have your blood sugar level tested by the time you’re 45. This first test serves as a baseline for future tests, which you should have every three years.
- Regular physical activity (40 minutes three to four times per week) can improve your blood pressure and HDL “good” cholesterol, reduce your chances of developing diabetes, and strengthen your heart.
Feeling Fine in your 50s
- As women age, we lose some of our body’s natural defenses against heart disease. This can happen because of changes in hormones from menopause, which can affect your cholesterol levels.
- Regular heart screenings are important to maintaining a healthy heart.
- Hopefully you have a regular fitness routine at this point in time, but if not, this is the time to begin! You should also incorporate core strengthening exercises and exercises to increase bone density once a week, both of which diminish as we age.
Setting your sites on the 60s, 70s and the 80s
- The more risk factors you can keep under control, the less likely you are to have a future heart attack. But as you age, your blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart-related numbers tend to rise.
- Keep moving! Even short brisk walks for as little as 10 minutes throughout the day, can provide enough physical activity to keep your heart in shape.
No matter what your age, you can take matters into your own hands to help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s never too late to live heart-healthy.