Heart disease kills more Australian women than any disease, and 1-in-2 women carry at least one risk factor for the life-threatening illness. A sobering statistic, but one that should instigate prevention rather than evoke fear.
To celebrate Wear Red Day on 14 February, here are five heart health boxes you should be checking to keep your ticker in top shape.
KNOW YOUR RISK?
Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously. Those under the age of 65, and especially those with a family history of heart disease, need to pay close attention to the risk factors. Smoking is another contributing risk for heart disease more so in women than in men, so either quit or don’t start this unhealthy habit.
ARE YOU A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
With well over half of our nation’s population being overweight or obese, the harsh reality is that it increases your chances of developing heart disease. Rather than focusing on the number on the scales, visit your doctor for some basic measurements, including a waist circumference This can give you a better idea of where you sit in terms of your weight and overall health.
DO YOU SUPPLEMENT?
You’ve probably heard about Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), a naturally occurring antioxidant in your body, but you may not have heard of Ubiquinol, the active (more easily absorbed) form of CoQ10, responsible for providing your cells with energy. According to leading Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker, Ubiquinol has also been shown to assist in maintaining healthy levels of LDL cholesterol. If you have a predisposition to heart disease, or you are one of the 2.8 million Australians taking statin medication for high LDL cholesterol levels, then speak to your doctor about Ubiquinol supplementation.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT ON YOUR PLATE?
Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Many people write off the effects that stress and anxiety can have on our health, but your emotional health should be taken seriously- just as seriously as our physical health. “Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Health is both a mental and physical journey, and the two need to coexist if you want to take care of your body” adds Dr Walker.
ARE YOU MOVING ENOUGH?
A lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease, and as a group, women tend to be less active than men. Exercise has incredible benefits not only for your weight and mental health, but specifically for your heart. Cardio exercises in particular can lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart, as you slowly increase your cardiovascular endurance. Find something you enjoy, whether it be power-walking, swimming, boxing or even dancing, and just aim to move and increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, every day if possible.
As always, speak to your doctor to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use only as directed.