A few years ago a very good friend of mine had a heart attack. She was a woman in her fifties who had led a fairly active and healthy lifestyle. She was a little lax on her diet, but she exercised several times a week and didn’t drink or smoke. It happened over a Labor Day weekend. She noticed that she was having a little pain in her shoulder and back when she went and carried the laundry down the steps to the basement of her home. She didn’t think anything of it. Maybe she had just strained something in the process. The next day, a friend invited her to a local festival at a park in town and she noticed that the pain intensified as she walked uphill. It didn’t go away that night. Another friend told her to take some aspirin and see if that helped. It did somewhat. The following Monday, she decided to go to see a doctor, something that she hadn’t done in some time. After running an electrocardiogram, the doctor told her that she was right in the middle of having a heart attack and if she had waited any longer, she might not have been around to talk about it. She was taken to the hospital right from the doctor’s office, and after she was stabilized, a procedure was performed to open the artery that was giving her trouble. Today, she has modified her diet and is taking her medication, exercises, and seems to be doing fine.
Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. The American Heart Association has launched a nationwide campaign for women’s heart health featuring the color red and a red dress logo. Back in the day, conventional wisdom was that women didn’t have to worry about heart health because hormones protected them during childbearing age and after that men were supposed to have much higher rates of disease than older women. Now, the latest research has determined that this is not true. Here are some ways that women can protect their hearts via the latest recommendations from the American Heart Association:
*Hereditary predisposition is important, so it’s even more important to follow these guidelines if you have a family history of heart disease. Lifestyle changes include managing blood pressure, increased physical activity, alcohol restriction, sodium restriction, and an emphasis on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
*The guidelines now recommend that women exercise moderately 60-90 minutes per day, every day of the week.
*Reduce saturated fat intake to no more than 7 percent of calories.
*It is recommended that women eat oily fish once a week and consider taking a capsule supplement of 850-1000 mg of EPA and DHA for women with heart disease and high triglycerides.
*Hormone replacement therapy is not recommended to prevent heart disease in women.
*Routine low dose aspirin therapy should be considered if the benefits outweigh the risks.
There are some other natural supplements that show some promise such as grape seed extract, getting enough fiber, potassium, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and substances rich in antioxidants and phytosterols like blueberries and green tea. If all of the natural remedy claims are just too confusing, then at least take a quality multivitamin daily.