Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. That’s right. Not cancer. Not automobile collisions. Not crazy, gun-toting rednecks. Heart disease. Studies say it kills in the neighborhood of 600,000 people a year. And the truly sad thing is that it’s preventable to a certain degree.
Heart disease afflicts both men and women, but women experience different symptoms for heart attacks than men. While chest pressure is the most common symptom for both genders, women can experience shortness of breath, jaw pain, headache, nausea, and fatigue. Those symptoms are much less common for men, who usually experience a crushing pain in their chest.
Male or female, it appears the way to prevent heart disease is pretty much the same regardless of gender. It boils down to some simple lifestyle steps. The trick is having the discipline to follow through.
- Abstain from smoking or using tobacco. Tobacco contains chemicals that can really mess up your arteries. Plus nicotine narrows your arteries, making your heart work harder to pump blood.
- Exercise. It’s recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise four or five days a week. It doesn’t have to be hardcore working out. House chores, yard work, and walking count toward your exercise total, too.
- Eat heart healthy. Diet contributes greatly to the health of your heart, so eat with that in mind. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid fat, salt, and cholesterol.
- Watch your weight. The more mass you haul around, the harder your heart has to work. Give it a break by maintaining a healthy body weight. Figure your Body Mass Index and if it’s over 25, it’s time to do something about it.
- Don’t be afraid of the Doc. Be sure to get regular health screenings. Check ups regarding blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes are particularly important.
Do those things and you’ll be nice to your heart. And if you’re nice to your heart, it’ll be nice to you.