Women’s Heart Health: 5 Ways to Take Good Care

Kiki Powers

by | Updated: February 24th, 2022 | Read time: 4 minutes

American Heart Month, observed every February in the U.S., is a valuable reminder to consider this vital organ on a regular basis. Although cardiovascular disease (CVD) has long been considered more a man’s health issue than a woman’s, strong research has since revealed that risk of CVD affliction and mortality is actually higher in women. In fact, data from the scientific literature suggests that women experience a doubled incidence of CVD related deaths.

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This elevated CVD risk in women appears to be due not only to traditional factors like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity, but also to socioeconomic and psychosocial factors. To add insult to injury, the older a woman gets, the more likely she is to get heart disease.

However, women of all ages would be well advised to consider natural CVD prevention tactics, since lifestyle patterns in our earlier decades set the stage for later years. Genetics plays a role of course, but we now know that daily habits have a far greater impact on our heart health over time. Fortunately, it’s easy to start making heart-wise lifestyle choices.

Women’s Heart Health Tips

Eat mindfully

Harvard University defines mindful eating as being fully attentive to your food—as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it. This includes both the kind of menu you select, as well as the calories consumed. In other words, as studies of populations around the world have shown, it is not only what you eat that impacts your well-being, but also how much.

Restricting calories while keeping nutrient levels high has been demonstrated to help extend lifespan and equally important, healthspan, in Blue Zone cultures around the world, and is also documented in medical studies of longevity To be clear, this is not about following any kind of “diet” program, most of which, as we know, are unsustainable over time. Rather, it is about consciously refraining from overeating in general.

Move artfully

To get (and stay) fit for life, it is important to tune into your body and determine what kind of movement is right for you, based on your preferences and physical abilities and adjusting your efforts as needed over time. Moving artfully is about discovering fitness pursuits that are safe, easy, feel good to your body, and that you enjoy. Popular options include:

Your regimen would ideally incorporate the great trifecta of stretching, cardio and weight-bearing work, essential components of fitness which operate synergistically. At minimum, most people can manage a 30-minute daily walk, which can be even more effective with hand weights and arm movements. For additional benefits, drop into some squats, pliés or lunges as you trek.

Explore Ayurvedic wellness

When it comes to cultivating a healthy cardiovascular system, we can learn a great deal from Ayurveda, which is one of the oldest and most comprehensive healthy-lifestyle systems in the world. This integrated approach to wellness emphasizes not only diet and exercise, but also time-honored herbal remedies. Learn more about Ayurvedic Basics: Using Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellness, as well as 7 Simple Ayurvedic Practices to Enhance Your Well-Being. You might also check out these 5 Popular Indian Spices with Notable Nutrition and Health Benefits.

Outsmart stress

Addressing chronic, pervasive stress is vital for women’s heart health and overall well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, when stress becomes chronic, it can be damaging to your well-being in many ways, potentially causing or contributing to:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger/irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses

We obviously can’t delete all the stress-causing factors in our lives, but we can at least better manage our response to stress, which may mitigate the damage it could otherwise inflict. This brings us back to exercise which is among the most effective “stress-busters.” Learn more about the diverse ways stress effects women and unique ways to effectively address it.

Explore adaptogenic herbs

Practitioners of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have for centuries recommended adaptogen herbs ─ a type of supplement that helps the body and mind cope with occasional physical and mental stress by supporting a healthy mood ─ and modern science is catching up as well. Since we know stress exacerbates CVD risk in women, you may want to become familiar with the five adaptogen herbs commonly used in traditional herbal medicine:

While there are additional ways to support your cardiovascular system naturally, these important strategies offer a great starting place. Here’s to happy, healthy hearts, now and for any decades to come!

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