With all the advances in science and medical knowledge, one thing is certain – unfortunately women at much younger ages than we saw 20 years ago are suffering heart attacks now. In fact, the NIH reports that heart attacks are the leading cause of death in women ages 25 and over.
The medical community believes this trend may be due to changing lifestyle factors such as more stress, high sodium consumption in processed convenience foods and an increase in diabetes, which can impair heart health. So it’s especially important that women of every age are aware of these risks and take positive steps toward ensuring their cardiovascular wellbeing.
Starting in your 20s, commit to not smoking. Get regular exercise (at least 2.5 hours/week) and avoid sitting for prolonged periods, eat a balanced diet with lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit alcohol to one drink daily.
In your 30s, maintain these guidelines and keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol readings with annual check-ups while maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI).
Your 40s should be a time to really get a handle on your stress levels and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Women who sleep less than six hours a night are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who get seven to eight hours of solid nightly rest.
The 50s are generally when women enter menopause so you may want to talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy as it affects your heart and other health considerations.
Women entering their 60s and beyond do need to be aware there is an increased risks of cardiovascular disease – but regardless of your age, make sure you know the signs of a heart attack at every age and don’t delay getting medical help ASAP!
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Back or jaw pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heavy pressure on the chest
- Cold sweats unrelated to menopause
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sudden or extreme fatigue and weakness