What are cardiovascular diseases?
Cardiovascular diseases include stroke, high blood pressure and rheumatic heart disease.
These diseases are influenced by lifestyle conditions and habits that lead to heart disease such as being overweight, smoking, inadequate physical activity.
Women and cardiovascular diseases.
One of the cardiovascular diseases is heart disease.
Women in mid-life ages and those in menopause have the highest risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Coronary heart disease also referred as heart disease and it is caused by hardening of arteries.
Arteries that supply blood to the heart become hardened and narrowed by plaque. Plaque which is accumulated fat and cholesterol and other substances, builds up within the arteries inner walls. This reduces the flow of blood to the heart.
Complete blockage of the arteries can lead to a heart attack.
Research shows that 95% of deaths by heart attack are in persons with one of the following factors; high blood cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.
Other relative factors are age, where in women it is after 55, and family history where if heart attacks occurred before 55, you are at a higher risk. Women who had early menopause are twice likely to develop heart diseases.
What causes heart disease in women?
- High blood pressure-also called hypertension. It is influenced by a family history of the disease, being overweight, diet concentrated with salt and sodium. Often it is referred to as the “silent killer” because it does not have symptoms. Blood pressure is the amount of force that blood flows within the arteries. It is expressed as 2 numbers and is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
- The 1st number represents the systolic blood pressure which is the amount of force used while the heart beats
- The other number represents diastolic pressure which is the amount of force in between heartbeats;
The optimum number is 140/90 mm Hg. High systolic pressure is high blood pressure. Whenever the 1st number is above 140, risk of cardiovascular diseases and kidney diseases even if the 2nd number is not high. Women in their 50’s are at a higher risk of developing systolic blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart failure. This incapacitate the heart’s ability to pump blood. It is caused by fluids leaking into the lungs.
- Smoking exponentially increases the risk of cancer; mouth, urinary tract, kidney, cervix and lung, bronchitis and emphysema and stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Low tar and low nicotine in cigarettes does not reduce the overall effects of smoking on your health.
- Cholesterol-In the blood, it is transported in packages referred to as lipoproteins. There are 2 types of cholesterol;
- LDL is commonly called ‘bad’ cholesterol as it accumulates in the arteries. and
- HDL is referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol as it does help remove cholesterol within the body.
The higher the LDL, the higher the risk of heart diseases while the higher the HDL, the higher the risk of the heart disease.
- Triglyceride. this is a type of fat in the blood and in food and they are produced in the liver. Their levels are higher than cholesterol, 150-199mg/dl.
- Metabolic syndrome. This is caused by obesity and lack of adequate physical exercise. It increases the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. Women with metabolic syndrome have; a waist line of or more than 35 inches, triglyceride at or above 150mg/dl, HDL les than 50 mg/dl, blood pressure at or above 130/85 mm Hg, blood sugar at or above 100 mg/dl.
QUICK FACT: BMI (Body Mass Ratio)
- Normal weight is where the BMI is 18.5 – 24.9
- Overweight is where the BMI is 25-29.9
- Obese is where the BMI is 30 and above.
What do you do to prevent and manage coronary heart disease?
- Consult a doctor. This gives you insight into what you cannot see. Some of the risk factors have no external signs and symptoms. The doctor also recommends the plan to prevent or manage heart disease. Establish a clear, open and honest communication with your doctor.
- Record details of the treatment process. This helps you review your treatment or prevention plan and test the procedures taken in doing that. This also guides you during the recovery period.
- Know your health status. Know your blood pressure, cholesterol figures, body mass index (BMI), waist measurements, blood sugar level and all other indicators that help diagnose and analyze your health position.
- Lose weight if you have 2 or more health risk factors and obese.
- Lose weight if your waist line is 35 inches and above and you have 2 or more health risk factors.
- Low fat food does not necessarily mean low calories.
- For those who are overweight, losing just 5-10% of your current weight helps lower the risks of all serious diseases.