Most Western countries face high and increasing rates of cardiovascular disease. Each year, heart disease kills more Americans than cancer. Diseases of the heart alone caused 30% of all deaths, with other diseases of the cardiovascular system causing substantial further death and disability. Up until the year 2005, it was the number 1 cause of death and disability in the United States and most European countries. Women are not less vulnerable than men.
What should a woman do to reduce risk of developing heart disease? Researchers offer a new program of 9 steps:
1) Quit smoking.
2) Control your weight. Balance calories and physical activity.
3) Do physical exercises.
4) Cross salt out of your diet (There is evidence from one large unblinded randomised controlled trial of more than 3000 patients that reducing the amount of sodium in the diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by more than 25%. This re-affirms evidence from the Intersalt study published in 1988, that high levels of dietary salt are harmful; these results were at the time heavily disputed by the Salt Institute).
5) Reduce the consumption of saturated and trans-fats.
6) Eat colorful foods.
7) Eat fish (Eating oily fish at least twice a week may help reduce the risk of sudden death and arrhythmias. A 2005 review of 97 clinical trials by Studer et al. noted that omega-3 fats gave lower risk ratios than did statins).
8) Drink red wine, but limit the intake to one drink per day.
The combination of healthy diet and exercise is a means to improve serum cholesterol levels and reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases.
9) Use your watch. Women typically develop cardiovascular disease 10 years later than men. Take advantage of those extra years to change the risk factors that can be controlled.