Many women don’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for their gender. Almost 500,000 women die from cardiovascular diseases, while 270,000 women die from all forms of cancer combined.
Because so many studies are reported in the news – some with conflicting findings – about half of women report being confused about how to reduce their risks for heart disease.
Experts at the National Institutes of Health do agree that there are five essential things women can do to reduce their risks, even if they know heart disease runs in their family. They include:
1. Do not smoke, and, if you do, quit. Keep trying even if you have tried many times. Ask your doctor about tobacco cessation medications. Use the counseling offered by the National Cancer Institute at 1-877-44U-QUIT.
2. Aim for a healthy weight.
3. Become more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes on all or almost all days each week. Walking is a great way to be active, whether walking indoors on a treadmill or outside.
4. Eat smart. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fats.
5. Know your blood pressure, total HDL and LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose. Ask your doctor to do these tests and to inform you as to whether or not the numbers are within the recommended limits. Ask what you need to do if your numbers are outside the recommended range.
Walking is such an important way to reduce cardiovascular risks for both women and men. Every year, Texas AgriLife Extension in Wise County offers an eight-week program called Walk Across Texas to help people get started and establish the habit of physical activity.
This program will start March 3, so watch my column for details.
To find out more about Walk Across Texas, go to walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu or call the Extension office at 940-627-3341.
Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.