How much knowledge do you have about maintaining a healthy heart? Chances are, it’s not as much as recommended – despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. It turns out there is much more fear surrounding a breast cancer diagnosis although women are eight times more likely to die of heart disease.
As with all health conditions, awareness is key to prevention. Your younger years are a pivotal time to address any toxic health or lifestyle habits before they’re too difficult to manage after your 40s. See which, if any, of these mistakes sound familiar to you.
Waiting for our bodies to signal that we may have high blood pressure
Paying attention to our bodily signs is crucial for recognizing when our symptoms could be more serious. However, this approach could only go so far. Being proactive and getting your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar measured regularly can rule out ‘silent symptoms’ and flag risks of future heart trouble.
Slacking off on exercise
You purchased a treadmill, set it up at home and committed to working out at least three times a week. Initially, you may have gotten into a nice groove, but after a few months, your treadmill is collecting dust by the day. Don’t feel guilty. After an initial push, it’s easy to put exercise off, especially if it seems mundane. Pick an activity that’s both entertaining and rewarding for your health – try a Zumba or class or go for regular long walks while catching up with a friend. Tracking your steps with an app or Fitbit will also keep you accountable and aware of your progress each day. “Regular exercise can reduce every major chronic disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and certain cancers,” says Sherry Ross, M.D., OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “A minimum of three to five times a week is excellent for overall good health, [and] reducing your risk of [both] cardiovascular death and breast cancer.”
Staying up past midnight to get more stuff done
In our 20s and 30s, it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in a day. After work, we may be pursuing our side hustles, making dinner, caring for our families and of course, staying up late to get our social media fix. But sacrificing those precious hours of rest can lead to more than just lethargy. “Women who toss and turn at night, or stay up later, may have higher levels than men of C-reactive protein and other signs linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes,” says Sally Warren, a naturopathic doctor and a practitioner at Metro Integrative Pharmacy in New York City. Netflix and Instagram can wait – your heart can not.
Eating like you did in your 20s
Though it appears healthy food is making a wave, researchers at Brown University Medical School found that 20-somethings eat 25 percent more fast-food meals than they did in their teens. Grabbing dinner on-the-go means losing out on essential nutrients that are needed to keep your heart in optimal health. Some may help to lower your blood pressure while others may keep your cholesterol in check. Heart-healthy foods can be convenient too! Try these for starters: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/11-top-heart-healthy-foods#1.