Women may be living longer, but they continue to face major health challenges and may not even be aware of them.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, women have a number of unique risks for heart disease and stoke, such as pregnancy and menopause, and most have at least one risk factor.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s The Heart Truth Campaign calls on women to show their heart some love. Evaluation is the first step; while not intended to be a substitute for a physician's advice, diagnosis or treatment, an easy 16-question quiz can identify risks for women based on family history, diet and stress levels.
Next, by making health behaviour changes and taking action to improve heart health, women can lessen the chance of heart disease and stroke by as much as 80 per cent. These changes include, but are not limited to:
- stopping smoking;
- eating more fruits and vegetables;
- reducing stress;
- limiting alcohol consumption; and
- following Canada’s physical activity guidelines.
Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve heart health. Many women find it challenging to make time for physical activity while they juggle family, home and work obligations. And if they lead a sedentary life, which includes prolonged periods of inactivity such as sitting at a desk, they can double the possibility of heart disease.
To improve heart health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends a minimum of three sessions of weight-bearing exercise, plus 150 minutes per week of activity which raises your heart rate. A huge lifestyle change isn’t required to get these benefits, instead build up to this goal slowly by incorporating a 10-minute walk into every other day and try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.The Heart and Stroke Foundation's HeartWalk Workout offers a simple beginner’s walking plan.
Women with a heart condition, who are 45+, or are smokers between 35-45 years of age and have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease, should consult a physician before beginning any new activity.
[Writen with support from The Heart & Stroke Foundation of BC & the Yukon]
References and resources:
- The Heart and Stroke Foundation: Know your Risk and Prevention
- The Heart and Stroke Foundation: The Heart Truth Campaign
- The Globe and Mail: Why the sedentary life is killing us
- HealthyFamilies BC: Physical activity doesn't have to take too much time
- HealthyFamilies BC: A quick and easy exercise routine to keep you moving