Some women go through life without thinking much about their heart until something goes wrong. Heart care should be a priority at every age. Consider:
Children as young as 2 - can get a start on a heart healthy future before they even learn to crawl, according to new dietary recommendations for children and adolescents released by the American Heart Association. Mothers are encouraged to take a prevention approach by taking steps in a child's infancy to prevent heart disease and stroke risk factors from developing. Key recommendations for children age 2 and older:
balance dietary calories with physical activity to maintain normal growth
60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily
eat vegetables and fruits daily, limit juice intake
reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods
reduce saturated fats and trans fats
Mothers should discuss health and nutrition with their child's pediatrician.
Women in their 20s and 30s or “the child-bearing years” – Concerns during these years may include: weight gain, excessive stress, stopping a cigarette habit that started in college, heart risks related to medical birth control, increased blood volume or blood pressure that may occur during pregnancy, a family history of heart attack, stroke, or inherited heart abnormalities. A cardiologist can help direct lifestyle changes which can help to minimize these risks.
Women in their 40s and 50s – With the onset of menopause, a woman’s risk of heart disease increases significantly. Because post-menopausal women face more than twice the risk of heart disease over pre-menopausal women of the same age, it is important to be diligent about regular screening for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Note: beginning at age 50, more women than men have a total cholesterol level that is elevated.
Women in their 60s – Heart care becomes more important than ever during these years, when “silent,” and often symptom-free problems may occur. Many women in this age group have high blood pressure (about 14 million nationwide), and most will begin to develop atherosclerosis “hardening of the arteries” without realizing it. Regular screenings are essential for good heart health.
Older women – The average age for women to have a first heart attack is 70. In general, the older a woman is, the more likely she is to face heart-weakening congestive heart failure or “CHF” after a heart attack. The risk of stroke also increases. Good heart care will ensure that a woman is alerted to potential problems and that any medications that she may be taking will not have heart-damaging side effects.
No matter how old you are, you need to manage your heart health by controlling your risk factors. Call 847.657.1768 to request information about the Women's Heart Program.