One out of every four women dies from heart disease in the U.S., according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
It’s the top killer of U.S. women and men.
Heart disease begins with damage to the lining inside the heart’s arteries. Certain factors contribute to this damage, including smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
However, the risk for heart disease can be lowered by implementing the top four methods.
Maintain a healthy weight
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that being overweight raises the risk for developing heart disease. Therefore, make sure you maintain a healthy weight — or Body Mass Index — for your height.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a BMI calculator on their website. After typing in your height and weight, the BMI calculator will show if you’re within a healthy weight range. To lose weight:
- Look at ways to exercise more throughout the week
- Consider decreasing meal portion sizes
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and lean meats (such as poultry or fish)
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. The nicotine in cigarettes increases blood pressure; and high blood pressure damages the heart’s arteries. Smoking can also cause blood clotting and may directly damage cells that line arteries in your heart.
Monitor blood pressure — and lower it if necessary
“Years of high blood pressure can lead to heart disease,” according to the DHHS website. “People with high blood pressure often have no symptoms, so blood pressure should be checked every one to two years, and people should get treatment if needed.”
Besides medication maintaining a healthy weight, blood pressure can be lowered by limiting stress (or coping with it well) and exercising at least two hours and 30 minutes each week.
Test for diabetes and high cholesterol regularly
Too much cholesterol can clog arteries and keep the heart from getting the blood it needs. Having diabetes raises the chances of developing heart disease. With both these issues, the only way to detect something wrong is through a blood test.
Cholesterol can be lowered by losing weight and eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And while diabetes can’t be fixed once it’s been diagnosed, it can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise.