Although many women believe heart disease primarily affects men, the truth is women are just as vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the number one killer of all women ages 35 and older. The CDC reports that of the 696,947 deaths attributed to heart disease in 2002, 356,014 of those were women, making heart disease the number one killer among both men and women in this age group in the United States.
As we age our risk for cardiovascular disease increases. Data from studies such as the Framingham Heart Study concluded that 7 out of every 1000 men ages 35-44 experience some kind of cardiovascular problem. This number rises steadily to 68 out of 1000 as men age. Even more surprising, the rates for women developing heart disease were not very different. Although they tended to lag behind by about 10-15 years, as women mature, their risk for heart disease becomes increasingly similar to that of a man's.
The good news is that women can take measures to reduce their risk of heart disease. Preventive approaches such as making lifestyle changes and taking dietary supplements may help reduce the risk. Eighty two percent of the cardiovascular events affecting women have been attributed to factors which are completely under their control.
Tips for Reducing Heart Disease Risk
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Keeping cholesterol levels and triglyceride counts within a healthy range.
• Manage diabetes.
• Follow a healthful diet.
• Avoid cigarettes.
• Get 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 3 times per week.
• Maintain blood pressure within a healthy range.
• Form healthy relationships-- which may help a person cope better with stress, which has been found to be a contributor to heart disease risk.
Supplements for Heart Health
It is important to include heart healthy dietary supplements, such as fish oil, into your diet. Fish oil, which contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids may also promote heart health by influencing the body to make lower amounts of triglycerides.
In addition, the essential fatty acids found in fish oil provide further benefit by inhibiting the inflammatory responses in the body, which many experts believe is correlated to heart disease. One study suggests that supplementing with just one gram of omega-3 fatty acids daily, reduced the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, the risk for heart attacks, and the risk for stroke, even among individuals who had suffered heart attacks in the past.
So in honor of February - Heart Health Month, take time to find out what your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers are and take the time to implement some small changes to help keep them within normal ranges. Small changes, like weight reduction, giving up smoking, controlling blood pressure, and adding a fish oil supplement to your daily regimen can make a big difference in your health.