Women and Heart Disease

Posted on

Aug 24, 2017

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This past year, my mother developed symptoms of heart disease requiring intervention and treatment. Like most women she ignored and hid her symptoms from those around her.

Did you know?

Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States
One in Four women die from heart disease each year
Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no symptoms
Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease
Women are less likely then men to call 9-1-1 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack

Signs of a Heart Attack in Women

Pain, pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of the chest, lasting more than a few minutes or that goes away and then comes back
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, neck, back, jaw, or stomach
Shortness of breath with or without chest pain/discomfort
Nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat
The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain/discomfort, but women frequently experience some of the other common symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these signs, so you can get to a hospital right away

How can you improve your heart health?

Weight reduction

Maintain a normal body weight

Eat a healthy diet

Recommend the DASH eating plan. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and reduced in fat. Lower your cholesterol by significantly reducing saturated fats, and avoiding trans fats.


At least 30 minutes almost every day of the week. Dancing and walking are great at any age.

Stop smoking

Smoking raises your blood pressure, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke

Restrict sodium intake

Limit sodium/salt intake to less then 1,500mg per day

Moderation of alcohol consumption

No more than 1 drink per day for women (2 drinks per day for men)

Control your blood pressure

Blood pressure measures the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If your blood pressure stays high for a long time, you may suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack or stroke more than any other risk factor.

Making life long changes is the key to preventing heart disease.

Editors Note: This article was written by Kathleen Warshawsky, BSN, RN Publisher of Seniors Blue Book Greater Dallas and President of Dallas Area Gerontological Society. Kathleen may be reached at Kathleen@SeniorsBlueBook.com

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Top Tips for Reducing Elderly Anxiety at NightTrying to reduce elderly anxiety at night for a loved one? Read our top tips for the best ways to minimize elderly anxiety at night and improve their sleep quality.Alt Text: An Elderly Man Reminiscing (Image Source)Do you have an elderly loved one who experiences anxiety at night? 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Making Heart Health Choices

When it comes to health, theres a lot of misleading or outdated information. You really dont need a miracle diet; some magic beans, or snake oil to make an impact on your overall well-being. Many people think that taking medication will fix the problem - but it doesnt. Heart disease is an issue that causes death in 1 of 4 men and women in the United States. The good news is that heart disease is preventable through healthy diet choices and making healthy lifestyle choices (like exercising).Often even if youve had years of unhealthy eating under your belt, making some lifestyle changes, getting exercise, reducing stress and fatigue, drinking tons of water and making healthy eating choices make the biggest difference. The best part? These are all things you can do yourself, no prescription required! Making Lifestyle ChangesSometimes, making lifestyle changes can be tough because some habits have been built up for long periods of time. Some lifestyle changes that can have an immediate effect on your heart health include:-Stop smoking now stops the growth of plaque buildup and hardening arteries-Cut back on drinking alcoholic beverages-Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising-Exercise or doing a hobby outdoors instead of watching TV (research from Harvard School of Public Health suggests that watching more than two hours of TV per day causes an increased risk of heart disease) Getting ExerciseGetting moving is the trademark of a healthy lifestyle! It doesnt have to be super strenuous - like running a mile; just get some exercise! Some good exercises for seniors include:-A brisk walk through the park-Gardening-Walking the dog or taking the dog to the park-Balance exercises for seniors like walking heel to toe or marching in place-Wall push-ups and other strength exercises for seniors Reducing Stress and FatigueHave you ever gotten worked up and then had a fast pulse or felt on edge? Thats because stress directly raises your risk for heart disease. An AHA (American Heart Association) study found that doing a few meditation activities can actually reduce your risk of heart attacks significantly (compared to people that dont meditate to moderate stress). Heres an example of meditation exercises that you can do in 5 minutes:            -Focus on an interesting painting or nature scene            -Take several deep breaths            -Focus on the moment rather than focusing on negativity            -Distract yourself with a calming task            -Listen to music Drink Tons of WaterDid you know that your body is 60% water? Its constantly depleting this amount too - so doctors suggest drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Thats because it has a ton of positive benefits. Water:-Improves heart and brain function, while improving memory-Prevents issues like constipation, kidney stones, and headaches; reducing stress            -Makes it easier to lose weight and improves metabolism-Reduces the risk of heart attack and improves sleep quality if you drink a glass of water before bed (but dont drink too much!) Making Healthy Eating Choices - the TRUE Heart Healthy DietYouve probably heard that you are what you eat, and in a lot of ways its very true. If you eat unhealthily, you often feel lethargic, tired, and slow (think about how you feel after a big meal). Thats because the body is struggling to digest and break down unhealthy foods. And when we crave unhealthy foods, its often best to find other, healthier alternatives. Thats why at Legend Senior Living we always stress:            -Low sugar diets over low calorie diets-Managing your sugar or eliminating your sugar intake entirely-Cutting down on carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and starchy foods to lower blood sugar levels-Eating one fruit product a day to beat sugar craving causes naturally-Eating plenty of proteins, cheeses and milk-Getting dietary fiber through leafy greens and other healthy vegetables (sweet potatoes, asparagus and other low GI (glycemic index) foods like peppers and green veggies. You can always reference glycemic reference food charts to better follow low glycemic index diets as well Everyone Needs Some Help Sometimes - Plus its Heart Health Month! Legend Senior Living focuses on heart health this time of year; especially after holidays full of junk food and sugar. We help teach our clients how to better prepare lunches and breakfasts. We schedule professional dietitians and cardiologists to better explain how exercise, dieting, and reducing stress improve your heart health. Learn more about preventing heart disease for your loved ones today - give us a call to schedule a visit!