Many women don't realize aging makes heart disease likelier. To combat this problem, teams from Brookdale senior living communities nationwide are fanning out to personally alert women 65 and over to their increased risk and provide resources to fight it. The company hopes to reach 10,000 older women through “10,000 Heart to Hearts,” beginning Feb. 1.
“Cardiac disease kills more women than all cancers combined,” said Brookdale chief medical officer Kevin O'Neil, M.D., F.A.C.P. “On average, women develop heart disease 10 years later than men, with their first heart attack occurring at age 70.”
Research recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that by addressing six lifestyle factors, women can reduce their risk by as much as 90%. Take control of your heart health by adopting these habits:
Stop smoking: Cigarettes reduce the ability to sustain exercise and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol. Smoking also increases the blood’s tendency to clot and raises the risk of coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.
Exercise regularly: Make half an hour a day to engage in moderate exercise, such as walking, riding a bicycle or pool aerobics. Water-based physical fitness as well as chair exercise can be good options for people unable to walk or stand. If you don’t have the stamina or time to work out for a full 30 minutes, break it into 10-minute segments throughout the day. Exercising with other people increases your motivation and enjoyment.
Eat a low-saturated-fat diet: Make skinless poultry, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products a large part of your diet. Cut back on red meat, fried foods, butter and cheese, which can raise cholesterol levels and narrow artery walls by forming plaque on them. If a clot forms and blocks the smaller artery passage, a heart attack can occur.
Limit alcohol: Women 65 and above are advised to limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day. A drink is four ounces of wine; 12 ounces of beer; 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits; or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.
Maintain the right weight: It’s not about the readout on your scale as it is about the body mass index, which should be under 25. To determine your body mass index, divide your weight by the square of your height in inches. Multiply the resulting figure by 703.
Cut down on television: Watching more than seven hours of TV a week is associated with a sedentary lifestyle that’s not healthy for the heart. So make it a point to turn the television off and get involved in other activities.
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