Exercise and Healthy Weight= Heart Health!

February is Go Red/National Heart Month--and if women can only do one thing to protect their hearts it's to exercise, says Cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, Medical Director of the Women's Heart Center at New York University Medical Center in New York City. "Exercise helps to lower blood pressure, blood sugar and weight and it raises levels of good or HDl cholesterol," she said.

Remember, your heart's a muscle too and, therefore, needs to be worked out on a regular basis.

"However," says Goldberg, "If the woman smokes, the number one thing is to quit."

Other things you can do to protect your heart:

  • Pay attention to your symptoms--all of them. Signs of heart attack in women often present differently than in men, so you might not get that  "elephant sitting on top of the chest" feeling.

As much as a month before the heart attack you might feel unusual fatigue or experience sleep disturbance, shortness of breath, indigestion or anxiety. During the heart attack, you can experience shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, cold sweat, dizziness and weakness.

How do you know when it's not indigestion? "If you're taking any kind of treatment or medication, you should see some improvement within two days," says Naturopathic Physician Dr. Donielle (Doni) Wilson. Wilson, who is also president and executive director of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians, continued: "If you're not seeing any improvement at all, or if symptoms get worse, it needs to be investigated right away."

And don't worry about "pestering" your doctor--remember Rosie O'Donnell and the much-ignored aching arm and chest this summer? When she finally had an EKG, it revealed a 99 percent blockage and she could have experienced the widow maker.

Other things you should do:

  • Know your risk factors. There is a reason high blood pressure is called the silent killer. Blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels, should be checked regularly.
  • Watch your sugar consumption!. Americans eat far too much-- over 156 pounds a year. It contributes to heart disease by significantly increasing triglycerides. While you're at it, factor in some additional vegetables, fruit and fiber.
  • Maintain  a healthy weight. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity is one of the top four (4) preventable risk factors for pre-mature mortality.

 

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