Heart disease is the leading killer of American women, but the good news is it's largely preventable through basic lifestyle changes.
Mom can do that by following these tips from the U.S. National Institutes of Health:
- Quit smoking. Just a year after quitting smoking, your mother's heart disease risk will drop by more than half. Within several years, her risk of heart disease will be similar to that of someone who never smoked.
- Eat heart-healthy. Diet can play an important role in keeping your mom's heart in good shape. To help her get started, she can visit this Interactive Menu Planner.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity helps prevent and control high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. It's also a great way to lose weight and maintain it at a healthy level. Your mom should try to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your mother is overweight, slimming down can help reduce her risk of developing heart disease. Even a small weight loss makes a difference.
- Pay attention to the numbers. High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol are all risk factors for heart disease. When your mother visits her doctor, encourage her to ask her doctor to test for these risk factors and to get the results, so she'll know if she needs to take action to reduce her risk of heart disease.
For many women, these changes may seem overwhelming. But it will be easier for your mother if she has the support and encouragement from you and the rest of your family.
To get women to think about their heart health, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is debuting the Red Dress Pin. It's a new national symbol for women and heart disease that serves as a reminder that one in three women dies from heart disease.
That's more than eight times the number of women killed by breast cancer. But only about a third of American women know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for them. Here's where you can find out more about the Red Dress Pin.
Here's where you can learn more about heart disease.