The female heart: Protect it at any age

It’s crucial for women to choose a heart-healthy diet and engage in aerobic activity to protect themselves from heart disease.


If you’re a woman, perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about heart disease is this: You don’t need gray hair to get it—or die from it.

It’s true that a woman’s risk of heart disease increases with age. In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for American women 65 and older.

However, the disease is also the second leading cause of death among women 45 to 64 years old and the third among women 35 to 44 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That’s why it’s crucial to protect your heart no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated. CDC and the American Heart Association recommend that you:

Choose a heart-healthy diet. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole-grain foods, such as brown rice and whole-grain breads. Heart-smart protein options include lean meats, fish and beans.

Try to limit the overall amount of fat in your foods and replace saturated and trans fats (like butter or partially hydrogenated oils) with healthy oils, like olive and canola. Also, pay attention to portion size.

Move more. Most adults need to do at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) every week, along with strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups two or more days a week.

Make it personal. Talk with your doctor about specific risk factors—such as having diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol—that can raise your risk of developing heart disease and what you can do to lower your risk.

Keep track of your heart health and learn what your test results mean by clicking on the link to our free booklet, Know Your Numbers.

Did you know?In Yakima County:

  • Over 1 in 4 adults has high blood pressure
  • Over 1 in 3 adults has high cholesterol
  • Adults have higher cardiac risk factors than the state average

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. More people die of sudden cardiac death in the U.S. than of breast cancer, prostate cancer, homicides and traffic deaths combined.

The Yakima Heart Center and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital are working together to address cardiovascular disease in our community through education, prevention, early diagnosis and cardiac rehabilitation.

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