February is American Heart Month, a reminder to take your cardiovascular health into your own hands, learn your risks, and build good habits to prevent cardiovascular diseases and heart failure. It is vital for all women, especially those with underlying health conditions, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and breast cancer, as well as all women 55 years and older, to focus on maintaining or improving their heart health. Additionally, young and middle-aged women benefit from following heart-healthy diets and activity levels to lower their future risks of illness including cerebrovascular illnesses and dementia.
According to guidelines set by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, “A healthy lifestyle over a lifetime is the most important way to prevent atherosclerotic vascular disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.”
The more time older women spent sitting or lying down, the more likely their risk of hospitalization for heart failure, based on data from more than 80,000 postmenopausal women.
The researchers identified 80,982 women aged 50-79 years who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, had no known HF, and could walk at least one block unassisted. The average follow-up period was 9 years, and a total of 1,402 women were hospitalized for heart failure during the period of time they were observed.
What steps can I take for better health?
Take care of your body and mind
- Talk to your healthcare provider:
- if you have concerns about COVID-19;
- if you are sick;
- if stress is getting in the way of your daily activities; or,
- if you have a health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, to develop or maintain a plan to keep it under control.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get and stay active regularly in your home or outside your home.
- Eat heart-healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.
- Take care of your mental health, Stay connected with family and friends.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress.
- Practice good sleep habits to improve your mental and physical health, and boost your immune system:
- Follow a routine for going to sleep – be consistent going to bed and getting up – even on weekends.
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Monitor alcohol intake and avoid illicit drugs, including drugs that are not prescribed to you.
- Look out for your lungs
- Try to quit smoking and vaping.
- Smoking weakens your lungs and puts you at a much higher risk of having serious complications.
How can I take these steps?
It’s not always easy to take steps for better health, and every woman has her own approach. The key is to find what works for you. A great way to do that is to reflect on your health goals, what motivates you, and what’s holding you back from being your healthiest you.
Dr. Neera Bhatia and staff are committed to women’s health and are monitoring the rapidly changing events related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Our team is vaccinated against COVID-19, so our patients can feel safe visiting us. For more questions about your heart health and pregnancy, contact Dr. Neera Bhatia, your San Antonio OB/GYN today at (210) 222-2694!0