Contrary to popular belief, Heart Disease is just as common in women as in men. In fact, nearly 460,000 women die of cardiovascular disease every year, according to the most recent data from the American Heart Association. Women often have less extreme symptoms than men, so they may be more likely to ignore warning signs such as an ache in the jaw or feeling more out of breath than normal. But there are lifestyle changes women can make to reduce heart attack risk.
- Diet – Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet – rich in fish, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables – can dramatically lower your C-reactive protein (an indicator of inflammation in the arteries around the heart). A small amount of dark chocolate every week can also lower your C-rp.
- Hormones – If you’re taking birth control and have a high C-rp level, you should talk to your doctor and consider stopping. Research has shown that the hormones in birth control play a large role in raising the C-rp levels in your body. If you’ve already experienced menopause, oral hormones can cause the same problem. Ask your doctor about a hormone patch, which doesn’t have the same effect.
- Floss – A little known fact is that chronic gum disease leads to inflammation and increases heart disease risk. Make sure you’re flossing after meals and at bedtime. Good dental care has been shown to reduce risk of heart attack.
- Spices – For thousands of years, Chinese and Indian medicine has used ginger and turmeric as anti-inflammatory agents. Animal studies have shown these spices have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Relax – Life is busy and it can be hard to find time to relax. But it’s crucial for maintaining heart health. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep every day. Consider relaxation strategies such as yoga and deep breathing. Even just going for a walk with a friend can sooth your heart and your soul!