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Eastern Iowa Women

Providing women the resources and information they need to stay active, healthy, and live a fulfilling life.

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Heart Disease

Why are women at risk?

Heart disease is the leading cause for death in women in the U.S. One in four women will die from heart disease. If you are a woman or have a woman in your life that you love and want to have around for as long as possible. Start learning the signs of risk and make positive lifestyle changes, if possible.

According to the American Heart Association, there may be a link between a decline in estrogen as women age and the increase in heart disease risk. Estrogen helps the inner layer of the artery walls stay flexible. When the blood vessels are more flexible, there is less risk of a heart attack. Blood vessels need to expand and relax, in order for blood to flow normally. If they are not able to assist the blood flow through the body, blockages occur and that leads to heart attack or stroke.

Lifestyle habits play a huge role in a women’s risk for heart disease. Poor diet, consisting of large amounts of fat, especially animal proteins, aid in the blockage of arteries. Smoking has also been linked to the hardening, or loss of elasticity, of blood vessels, creating a larger risk for blockages. One of the biggest factors may be the lack of adequate exercise in a woman’s life because that increases weight and slows circulation, both things that increase risk.

There are some changes that happen to a woman’s body as she ages that may not be avoidable. During the menopause process, some women tend to experience increased blood pressure, as well as decreased estrogen. Other changes, such as increased cholesterol and triglycerides may be avoidable or treatable with medication. All of these risk factors, especially when they are combined, are a huge red flag for a woman to get her heart checked out as soon as possible.

Heart disease is preventable and reversible. Changing your lifestyle is not easy, but it is worth it if it means life or death. Increasing activity is one of the most effective and easy things that can be done to reverse effects and start becoming more heart health. Reducing or eliminating all animal fats and proteins is not easy for some, but can make a profound reduction in heart disease risk. Increasing fiber, such as oat meal, and fruits and vegetables will also help with risk.

The bottom line is, women are at risk and there are many reasons why. Seeing a physician for a yearly checkup is a great way to know your blood cholesterol, BMI, and other numbers that can tell you if your risk is high enough to make the big lifestyle changes needed to reverse heart disease. Women are in charge of their health, but if you love a woman who needs a friendly reminder to get checked, now is the perfect time to do it.