Women are multi-taskers who can manage their home, work or whatever hurdle comes their way in life, impeccably. They juggle between keeping the household afloat , caring for their families, working full-time jobs, and selflessly keep their own needs last. They are a mark of strength. To be strong, also means that you need to keep yourself, especially your heart healthy, because it is the whole and soul of your body. The fact of the matter remains that biologically, the hearts of women and men are built differently and hence the impact is also different.
Women generally have smaller hearts because of the difference in sex hormones, a smaller heart also means they have higher heart rates. Women may also experience more complications related to blood pressure and vascular ageing at an earlier stage as compared to men due to smaller caliber arteries, hormonal changes, and menopause, making them susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.
For these reasons, it is critical that women look after their heart health through a holistic approach. So today, we share a few heart health tips for women to ensure proactive measures to keep themselves fit and in control of their overall well-being. On the occasion of Women’s Day, it’s time women put their own heart first. These will combine women’s health tips for heart, mind and body — all together.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
Women’s blood pressure levels usually tend to increase, especially after menopause due to the decline of estrogen, which is a hormone that plays an important role in the female reproductive system. High blood pressure also known as hypertension, is an increase in the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries.
For this reason, it’s important for women to monitor their blood pressure and seek help if it rises above normal. Blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal, however, low blood pressure of less than 90/60 mm Hg can also be a cause of concern, leading to a “hypotensive” state.
Look Out for Symptoms of Heart Issues
While men and women have similar symptoms, a few of them may be less noticeable in women.
Some symptoms to watch out for that are more common in women are:
- Chest pain, even if irregular
- Lower chest or upper abdomen pain/pressure
- Constant fatigue
- Jaw/neck/back pain
- Shortness of breath
Monitor Other Symptoms and Your Diet
An easy but extremely important fix to consider is the food that goes into our bodies. Creating a heart health diet plan can greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and goes a long way in maintaining your health as a whole.
Mentioned below are some factors that can lead to heart disease and foods that can help prevent them:
- Blood Pressure: Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and spinach contain nitrates that are helpful in regulating blood pressure.
- Cholesterol: Tofu and soy, both contain isoflavones, a type of dietary compound that reduces LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which is known to cause heart disease and strokes.
- Diabetes: To minimise sugar intake, switch to healthier alternatives such as dark chocolate that is actually good for the heart owing to flavonoids that lower risk of heart diseases. Fruits, like melons, that are naturally sweet in flavour make a good substitute too.
- Weight Gain: An increase in weight is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds are great sources of protein that contain unsaturated fats to help regulate body weight. Additionally increasing fibre from sources like fruit, vegetables and whole grains keeps us satiated for a longer time and helps us manage our weight.
Improve Your Lifestyle
Small changes can lead to big impact and this reflects most significantly through the lifestyle we lead and the positive changes we make to it to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Below are a few tips for good heart health:
- Physical Activity: Weight gain, in both pre-menopause or post-menopause stages, can lead to cardiovascular concerns. Women also tend to store more body fat than men. Being physically inactive can result in weight gain and other problems. When you make physical activity a routine part of your life, you automatically reap the benefits of a healthier heart. Activities to consider include going to the gym, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing — all depending on your personal preference.
- Meditation and Stress Management: Studies indicate that women are more likely to be stressed than men considering the various roles they play, with finances and relationships being some of the main stressors. Meditation is possibly the most relaxing and calming way in which you can benefit your heart health. Meditation can help calm your mind and this in turn produces significant benefits for heart health.
- Moderate or Quit Alcohol/Smoking: Alcohol consumption and smoking also affect women differently than men because their bodies metabolise alcohol differently and smoking can increase risk of cervical cancer. Both excessive drinking and smoking cause severe damage to your health and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Consider limiting your alcohol consumption and smoking or quit altogether if possible.
There’s no time like today to start your journey towards better health and with these heart health tips, there’s nothing that can stop you from taking on the world. For the ones with the warmest hearts, treat yourself to some extra TLC today and every day!