Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of women! Every year, one-half million women die from heart disease. There are many risk factors that can be kept under control. Women at any age are at risk for heart disease, but as you get older your blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart-related numbers tend to rise. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because people often have no immediate symptoms. Prescribing medication to a person who feels well can be difficult, so they are usually non-compliant with taking their medication. High blood pressure is defined as 140 or higher systolic pressure (the top number) and 90 or higher diastolic (the bottom number). Systolic is the pressure of blood in the vessels when the heart beats, and diastolic is the pressure between beats or at rest.

Know your numbers.

These are you basic heart numbers:

Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg

Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL

HDL (happy or good) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher

LDL (lousy or bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL

Triglycerides 150 mg/dL or less

Body Mass Index less than 25 kg/m2

Waist circumference less than 35 in.


As we get older it’s hard to exercise. We can’t move like we used to, but we can still move. Try doing aerobic exercise in water, if possible—using large muscles of the legs and arms––on most days of the week for 30 minutes trying to get 150 minutes in per week. This will help your heart work more efficiently. Physical activities will help you improve your strength, flexibility and balance as you age–– plus help you lose weight, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase HDL cholesterol.

Eat heart-healthy

Have meals that help maintain your heart health. Focus on including foods that are nutrient-dense like colorful veggies and fruits, fiber-rich, whole-grains, lean meats, skinless chicken and fish rich in omega-3s, and fat-free, and use 1% fat and low-fat dairy products. Avoid sugar and processed foods and don’t use added salt. These foods can give your heart the nutrients it needs to keep it a strong muscle as well as improve your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Quit smoking

We know smoking and using tobacco products are bad for our health. Oklahoma has programs at http://Okhelpline.com or call 1-800-784-8669. In Texas you can find help at www.QuitNow.net. It’s never too late to start improving your heart numbers.

Manage stress

Stress is your body’s response to change. Recognize how stress affects you, learn how to deal with it, and develop healthy habits to ease your stress. The body reacts to it by releasing adrenaline (a hormone) that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up, and your blood pressure to rise. Constant or continuous stress can cause heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and diabetes. The good news is you can actively manage your stress before it becomes a problem. Take deep breaths, stay relaxed and think about something positive. Or you might try meditation, yoga, or tai chi.

No matter what your age, you can take matters into your own hands to help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s never too late to live heart-healthy, achieve your fitness and nutrition goals, and live heart smart.

The above article was written by Joan Weems, RN. Victory Home Health & Hospice is prepared to help you with any medical problems or healthcare questions you may have. Located in Southern Oklahoma we have nine locations ready to serve you. We can help you after a hospital stay, teaching you about your diagnosis, new medications, diabetic help, wound care, therapy to strengthen you and get you back on your feet, and nursing staff to ensure you are making progress. If you have a terminal diagnosis, our hospice can provide nursing, psycho-social, and spiritual care along with pain control. We also have Victory Medical Equipment that serves this same area. Victory Medical Equipment sells a variety of medical supplies, walkers, wheel chairs, scooters, beds, mattresses and much more. Call our Corporate Office toll-free at 888-815-7922, and they can point you to a location near you.