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Preventing Heart Disease

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Preventing Heart Disease

Heart disease in women may, at best, be harder to diagnose. At worst, it could go unrecognized. If you have symptoms or risk factors for heart disease, be clear about them with your doctor. Learn about your risk factors and how you can take control of those you can change.

There's a lot you can do to prevent health problems. Eat healthy, stay active and get enough sleep, along with having regular checkups. Seeing your doctor for routine preventive care can help identify health problems before you know something's wrong, which is often when treatment could make the most difference. By scheduling a preventive visit with your doctor, your physician will consider your personal risk factors, and then make recommendations for the preventive health screenings that are appropriate for you.

Talk to your doctor about your specific health questions and concerns, and visit our preventive care website to view the health screening and immunization guidelines that are right for you. These, along with the advice of your doctor, can help you maintain or improve your health.

What you can do to help prevent and treat heart disease

While there's no cure for heart disease, it can be prevented and treated. Improve your heart health by making small health and lifestyle changes. Consider taking these steps to help your heart stay healthy and strong:

  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Get regular cholesterol screenings – once every five years for women 45 and older.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure at every doctor's visit. Target blood pressure is 120/80.
  • Control your diabetes. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar level under control.
  • Quit smoking. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers. But after three years smoke-free, the risk drops to that of a nonsmoker.
  • Exercise. Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity each day can help control cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, or preferably every day of the week. Break up this activity into 15-minute sessions if that works better for you. Aerobic exercise is what hearts like best. It makes the heart become stronger and work more efficiently. Whether you choose biking, jogging, running, swimming, brisk walking, dancing or any other moderate activity, the most important thing is to just do it.
  • Eat healthfully. Pay attention to the food groups – include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and avoid excess saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and sugar.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Staying within the healthy weight range for your height reduces your risk for high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
  • Manage stress and anger. Set realistic goals, maintain healthy relationships and use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and stretching, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.