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Be Heart Wise: Essential Strategies for Women to Prevent Heart Disease

by Life Aveda 04 Jul 2024
Be Heart Wise: Essential Strategies for Women to Prevent Heart Disease

Women wear many hats. She is a mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague and has a habit of putting others' needs before her  own. But in the process of doing so, she often neglects her own health and wellbeing. Though she must understand one thing that her health is not just important for herself, but also for those who depend on her. Neglecting one's health can result in tons of things and one of them is heart disease.

Heart disease is affecting millions of women worldwide and has got a very interesting name, “the silent killer” as sudden heart attacks are causing female deaths around the world. The good news is that it's preventable on a large scale by making simple lifestyle changes and educating or awaring oneself about risk factors. Significantly such awareness or practices can reduce risk of heart disease in women.

This blog is all about strategies, tips and preventive measures that can help in avoiding heart diseases.

Women's Hearts at Risk: Uncovering the Hidden Factors

Women's Hearts at Risk: Uncovering the Hidden Factors

There are many risk factors which make a woman vulnerable to heart problems. Such risk factors are listed below:

  • Age: As a female age, the risk of heart disease increases. Especially after the age of 55, a female heart is at risk of developing various ailments and the main credit goes to the menopause. Menopause makes women vulnerable to develop heart conditions because of the hormonal shifts. Also age can lead to the natural wear and tear of the heart and blood vessels, it's just that menopause accelerates the process.
  • Family History: If the mother of a female, who ever had a heart condition or ever experienced heart attack, is more susceptible to develop heart condition. That is why a history of a female suffering from heart disease in a family makes her daughter more prone to develop the same if preventive measures are not taken on time. This is because genetics can play a role in heart health and certain conditions can be inherited.
  • High Blood Pressure: The increased pressure of blood in blood vessels makes the vessels more prone to injuries or damage. Such recurrent injuries and damage can result in blockage of vessels with time resulting in heart attack or decreased blood supply to different parts of the heart.
  • High Cholesterol: Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and leads to blockage or damage to the blood vessel walls. High levels of cholesterol is the core reason for development of this condition.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar levels or fluctuating blood sugar levels puts one's heart at risk of developing heart disease. The reason is the damage, which is induced by high sugar levels especially on the blood vessels carrying blood to the heart.
  • Obesity: It is the accumulation of fat in the body which can be in between the organs and around the heart as well (termed as visceral fat). This is potent enough to develop inflammation, heart conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Lack of Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle is an invitation to different conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and is  associated with many forms of heart disease as well. But regular physical activity can help to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, reduce stress and manage blood glucose levels.
  • Smoking: Long term smoking leads to narrowing of blood vessels and makes it harder for blood to flow to the heart. Smoking damages the blood vessels especially the walls of the arteries carrying blood to heart and increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Stress: Unrelieved stress may damage the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Poor Diet: Watch what you eat is a very old saying but do not follow it. Diets which are high in fat, salt, sugary items have been thoroughly linked to heart disease. Intake of processed foods, with no fiber and whole grains increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: Obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart cholesterol, triglycerides and heart disease.
Powerful Ways For Women: Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

There are many ways which can help a woman to reduce the risk of heart diseases. These ways are listed as following:

  • Get Moving: Working out on a regular basis helps in lowering blood pressure, supports adequate blood flow to different parts of the body and also lowers the stress. Aiming for at least 35-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day can help in avoiding heart conditions or heart attacks.
  • Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: It is very important to add fiber in the form of whole fruits and vegetables in your diet. Processed foods, sugary food items, unwholesome grains and refined oils are best to be avoided. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods like whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Also avoid foods high in sodium and saturated fats.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a Healthy weight means aiming to follow a healthy diet and exercising at least 5 days a week as excess weight increases risk of heart disease, so better aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • Don't Smoke: As discussed before in the blog, smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Quit smoking or avoid starting in the first place. You can do it gradually if not instantly.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption, if done in excess amounts leads to onset of heart problems. It is better to have calculative drinks if you are having it on a regular basis. Even if you drink occasionally it's better to look after the amounts.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress leads to release of high amounts of cortisol in the body thus increasing the risk of heart disease. In extreme cases of stress, try techniques like meditation, deep breathing or yoga.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Sleep deprivation puts your body under stress and again results in release of cortisol. This cortisol production in the body can increase your risk of heart disease. Try to have 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Monitor Your Blood Pressure: Blood pressure monitoring is important if you already are on the anti hypertensive medications or if your blood pressure fluctuates towards higher side. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Also, avoid stress as it tends to spike blood pressure.
  • Get Your Cholesterol Checked: Cholesterol and triglycerides are the main causes of heart disease and heart attack. Cholesterol is already made by the liver and consuming a diet high in fats can bring trouble. That’s why eating well is mandatory and keeping a check on your cholesterol is a wise decision during or after menopause.
  • Know Your Family History: If there is a family history of heart disease then one should be more attentive and work on the ways to reduce risk. Like managing diet by eating less carbohydrates, low sugar, non fried food and avoiding packed processed food items.
Herbs to Support Women's Cardiovascular Health

Heart health is very difficult to maintain and yet is also very essential to look after. In Ayurveda, there are certain herbs which are known to help in maintaining heart health. These herbs have been traditionally used to promote heart health, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and alleviate symptoms. Such herbs are as follows:

  • Arjuna: From ages, arjuna is known as a natural cardio-tonic which helps to  strengthen the heart and heart muscles. Due to its anticoagulant property it improves circulation as well.
  • Guggul: It is a plant-based cholesterol reducer that has anti inflammatory properties as well. Guggul is known to open micro channels and allow free flow of fluids and energies in the body. Working by its hot potency it melts down the excess fat in the body and brings down weight as well.
  • Turmeric: A very well known kitchen spice which helps in reducing inflammation and act as a potent antioxidant.
  • Ginger: Like guggul, ginger also has hot potency which helps in opening blocked channels, free flow of fluid and energies. It improves blood lipid profile by lowering down triglycerides levels. Also, it helps in better digestion.
  • Shatavari: A herb especially for females, which helps in balancing energies in women 's body. It has nourishing properties and keeps female hormones in check. This herb is perfect to help a female through the menopausal phase.
  • Punarnava: Plant that supports heart health by reducing body fluid overload. It is a natural diuretic and prevents accumulation of fluid in the body.
  • Gotu Kola: A botanical that is recommended for its nervine protection properties also has a role in heart health. It opens blocked channels, lowers cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.
  • Cinnamon: The bark of cinnamon is known to have hormone balancing and cholesterol reducing effects. It also helps in balancing blood triglyceride levels.

Conclusion

In the menopausal age, Heart disease has become a significant threat to women's health. But the condition is not inevitable. Here being heart wise can work and women can take control of their cardiovascular or heart health. Educating or awaring oneself can help to reduce risk of development of heart disease. The  strategies that are outlined in this blog are essential and it is important to know the risk factors, ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage stress and leveraging Ayurvedic herbs. Somehow these herbs can be introduced into your day to day routine and help women protect their heart health along with maintaining their overall health.

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