Heart healthy habits: a good idea for any age

February is National Heart Month, and although anyone at any age can be affected by heart disease, it isn't something many young women think about. Leah Felger MSN, RN, Program Coordinator at Parkview Heart Institute, shares why prevention is important for both young and old.

Young women have unique risks.

When a heart or other health event stops a young woman in her tracks it can be quite shocking. Heart disease can affect anyone, regardless of age, and since it’s the number one cause of death among women, it’s important to talk about. Women tend to focus on body image as a measure of health, often ignoring or overlooking what may be going on beneath the surface. Because of this, signs of heart disease can go unnoticed and undiagnosed, and significant risk factors may not be monitored.

One unique risk that younger women experience but don’t often realize is the connection between complications in pregnancy and an increased risk of heart disease later in life. Hypertensive diseases in pregnancy such as preeclampsia have been linked to heart disease. The common misconception is that once you have delivered your baby and this acute issue has been resolved, everything goes back to normal. However, these women should continue to be monitored with a focus on prevention to help decrease the risks of heart disease later on.

Early prevention is important.

For women especially, as they move through the natural stages in their lives like education, careers or beginning families, it’s easy for them to put external pressures and obligations ahead of their own needs. They tend to prioritize themselves last. One of our goals is to help women recognize the importance of early prevention for both themselves and their families. All women, regardless of age, should be taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Feed your body well, exercise and find ways to appropriately manage stress. Create healthy habits for yourself and for your family, and remember to take care of your whole body and your mind. 

It’s never too late to begin heart healthy practices.

Prevention is important for women both young and old. Whether you’re starting early in life or a little later, heart healthy practices can make a difference. A great example of this is our Her Heart Challenge members. Women from ages 26 — 76 participated in the program. The goal for each of these women was to improve their health, and that’s exactly what they accomplished. Remember, only you can take charge of your health.

Interested in learning more about women’s heart health?

Join us at the Love Your Heart Expo on February 16. At this free event, women will have the chance to gather resources, listen to a presentation from Mark O'Shaughnessy, MD, Parkview Heart Institute, try laughter yoga and more! Pre-registration is required by February 10, and you can register here.

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