Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. Even though research has provided many new medications and procedures to mend damaged hearts, it continues to take many lives. Women, in particular, are at special risk because they may not recognize the signs of an impending heart attack. These symptoms are different than the classic “pain in the chest” that is often depicted. With lifestyle changes and other types of natural prevention, women can decrease their risk for heart disease.
Heart Disease Symptoms in Women
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that heart disease kills 1 in 4 of all female deaths. They note that 2/3rds of women who die of heart disease experienced no previous symptoms. Women may experience a heart attack quite differently than men do. Rather than the dramatic, severe chest pain, women may feel a heart problem as a sharp, burning sensation in the chest or pain in the throat, jaw, back or abdomen. Shortness of breath, persistent indigestion, lasting nausea or extreme can signal a heart attack in women. Fluttering sensations in the chest can signal arrhythmia in women. Swelling of the feet and ankles can be a sign of heart failure. However sometimes there are no warning symptoms, which make it critical that women have their heart function checked during annual physical exams. Women can also improve their heart function by implementing a number of natural healing methods in their daily lives.
1 – Less Meat, More Vegetable-Based Diet
Eating less meat and more vegetables can help women to build stronger blood vessels that will help strengthen their hearts. Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, squash, carrots, tomatoes and green peppers are full of antioxidants that prevent the buildup of free radical compounds that are linked to disease. These vegetables are also low in cholesterol and high in vitamins and minerals that help to prevent disease.
2 – Exercise Regularly
Exercise improves circulation, increases muscle strength, helps brain function and generally contributes to better health. Yoga, tennis, bicycling, weights and sports activities can all help you to improve heart health.
3 – Quit Smoking
Smoking is one of the top contributors to heart disease. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs or medications that can help you quit, so you can avoid heart disease and stroke.
4 – Drink Green Tea
A number of studies indicate that consuming more than 5 cups of green tea daily can lower the risk for heart disease by 26 to 28 percent. It appears to have a healing effect on the tissues that line the blood vessels.
Women can substitute green tea for coffee, soft drinks or other beverages during the day to reap the benefits of this healing potion.
5 – Cook With Olive Oil
Olive oil has been found to have beneficial effects on heart health when used as a substitute for trans fats and unsaturated fats. It is a monounsaturated fat that can lower cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar levels.
6 – Increase Fiber in Your Diet
Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can have a number of beneficial effects. Fiber-filled foods are generally filling and will help you to eat less and lose weight, one of the prime factors involved in heart disease. Fiber will also help to lower cholesterol levels, another factor in heart disease. A diet high in fiber will also help to regulate blood glucose levels in your body to help prevent type-2 diabetes. A high-fiber diet will also help your digestion to help keep you feeling fit and ready to take on your day.
7 – Learn To Deal With Stress
Research has found that stress is a killer, increasing the amount of free radicals in the bloodstream and undermining the immune system. Today, women live with a great deal of stress, juggling jobs and family, managing tight time schedules and often neglecting their own health in the process. Women often feel stress is just a part of life and don’t take an active role in managing it. But stress can lead to increased blood pressure, poor eating habits, greater alcohol use and insufficient sleep. These problems can lead to heart disease and stroke. Stress management techniques can include exercise, meditation, engaging in a satisfying hobby or spending relaxed time with friends.
Maintaining heart health requires daily actions that serve to improve overall heart function. These tips will increase your heart health so that you can enjoy a longer and healthier life.