Robert R. Cawley, D.O.
Dover, NH 03802
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Yet, according to the American Heart Association, only 1 in 5 women believe heart disease is her greatest health threat. Women who are experiencing heart attacks wait longer to seek cardiac care than men, are treated less aggressively, and are less likely to survive.
Why does this gender gap exist? One reason is a lack of scientific research and data about women’s heart health. Another is a simple lack of awareness. Women’s heart disease sometimes looks different than men’s with different causes, signs and heart attack symptoms in women. Therefore, raising awareness about their risk factors can go a long way toward improving women’s heart health.
“The good news is that heart disease is preventable. While genetics does play a role, we are learning that it is a much smaller factor than previously thought. Positive lifestyle changes can drastically improve your heart health,” says Whitney Coppolino, MD, FACC, Wentworth Health Partners Cardiology at Pease.
Following the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” is a great place to start.
Keeping your blood pressure within healthy ranges reduces the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, which keeps you healthier longer. Talk to your doctor about steps you should take to manage your blood pressure.
High cholesterol contributes to the plaque that clogs arteries and leads to heart disease and stroke. Know your HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) numbers.
Diabetes is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you have diabetes, make sure you are taking your prescribed medications or insulin to manage your blood sugar levels.
Try for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times per week. Brisk walks truly can lower your risks of heart disease and stroke.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish is one of the best safeguards against heart disease.
Extra fat – especially around your waist – puts you at higher risk for health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Even losing just five or 10 pounds can improve your health and help you feel better too.
No surprise here – quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your heart and overall health.
Dr. Whitney Coppolino is a cardiologist with fellowship training in cardiovascular disease and women’s heart health.
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