February 9, 2021
by Nicole Fischbach, APRN, CNP, FNP

Mankato Clinic staff joined Go Red for Women by wearing red to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease among women. 

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year? 

You have the power to change that. Nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented says the American Heart Association. Here’s how.

Cardiovascular disease is all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels including coronary heart disease (clogged arteries), which can cause heart attacks, stroke and heart failure. Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque, a combination of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood, build up in the arteries. The plaque reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood getting to your heart and brain which can lead to blood clots, heart attacks and stroke.

Here’s how you can prevent cardiovascular disease.

Healthy eating  

Shoot for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains which can fight high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

  • Set small nutritional goals. Aim for 5 different fruits and vegetables a day. Meet your goal by adding a fruit or veggie to every meal. When you achieve that, add fruits and vegetables to your snacks.
  • Eat fish, like salmon, once a week for dinner. Lean protein like chicken and turkey are good for the other days.   
  • Make Meatless Monday part of your routine and try quick vegetarian recipes such as bean burritos, black bean soup, Tuscan white bean pasta.
  • Choose whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal.
  • Limit processed meats such as bacon, pepperoni, cold cuts, hot dogs and chicken nuggets.

Physical activity

Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent. Exercise can also help improve circulation, maintain your weight, improve cholesterol levels, prevent and manage high blood pressure. Plus exercise helps prevent bone loss and boosts energy levels – a win-win for women!

The easiest way to begin exercising is to start a walking program. It’s free and has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise! According to the American Heart Association, for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

Be tobacco-free

Smoking can damage blood vessels and make the blood sticky and prone to clotting, decrease good cholesterol and rob your heart, brain and arteries of oxygen. Nicotine also raises your heart rate and blood pressure.

When you stop smoking, your risk for heart disease and stroke can be cut in half just one year later and continues to decline. For free resources to stop smoking, visit www.quitpartnermn.com.

Go Red for Women

Join the Go Red for Women Sisterhood and take charge of your own heart health. Join today at www.goredforwomen.org.