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Heart disease is the number one killer of women.

  • Women account for nearly half of all heart attack deaths
  • About 1 out of 3 women will die from heart disease (1 in 30 dies from breast cancer)
  • One in 14 women between the ages of 45 and 64 has some form of heart disease
  • One in 7 women over the age of 65 has some form of heart disease
  • 2/3 of women who die suddenly have no previous recognized symptoms

Risk factors for heart disease:

  • High Blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Smoking
  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Age
  • Family History
  • Postmenopausal state
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Postmenopausal HRT

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by your liver. The more animal products such as cheese or other fatty foods you eat, the more cholesterol your liver makes. With time, cholesterol can build up in blood vessels and clog them. This reduces blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Your eating and exercise habits play a big part in cholesterol control.

  • Build meals around low-fat main courses like pasta, fish, or whole grains.
  • Eat 8 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of total walking time each day.
  • Look out for foods high in saturated fat. Avoid foods that list coconut or palm oil or “partially hydrogenated” oil.
  • Try to avoid:
    • Liver and other organ meats
    • Fatty meat, cold cuts, and sausages
    • Deep-fried foods
    • Creamy sauces and fatty gravies
    • Packaged baked goods

Physical activity strengthens your heart and helps lower high cholesterol levels. But before you begin an exercise program, talk with your doctor.

Some people have high cholesterol even when they eat well and exercise. Family history can indicate that your body makes more cholesterol than others. A blood test is the only way to know for sure whether your cholesterol is at a healthy level.

Cholesterol Levels:

Total cholesterol Goal: < 200 mg/dl
LDL cholesterol
(“bad” cholesterol)
Low risk: <160 mg/dl
Intermediate risk: <130 mg/dl
High risk (heart disease/DM): <100 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol
(“good” cholesterol)
Goal: >50 mg/dl
Triglycerides Goal: < 150 mg/dl

For more information, check the American Heart Association website or the American Dietetic Association website.


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