Healthy habits can build heart health, and the earlier you start practicing those habits, the better your heart will be. And Heart Month is a great time to bring attention to what we know about preventing heart disease in women.
A paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) reports the impact of 6 habits on the risk of heart disease for women. This study, Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women, looked at a group of young women ages 27-44 years old and followed them over 20 years.
Six Healthy Behaviors
Can you think of what the six healthy behaviors might be? Like a lot of heart healthy changes, they are available to us right now. No waiting necessary.
The study defines a healthy lifestyle as:
- Not smoking
- A normal range body mass index (BMI)
- Physical activity equal to or less than 2 and a half hours a week
- Television viewing equal to or less than 7 hours a week
- A diet in the top 40 percent of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index
- 0.1 to 14.9 grams a day of alcohol
So Where Should You Start?
Pick a habit, any habit:
- Don’t light up: Quit smoking
- Get to goal: Work toward a weight within your normal Body Mass Index (BMI) range
- Move your body: physical activity at least 2 and a half hours a week
- Turn off the tube: TV viewing less than or equal to 7 hours a week
- Think nutrition: Follow a heart healthy diet
- Sip responsibly: If you choose to drink alcohol, stay with one drink per day. One drink being a 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor or about 14 grams.
A Medscape article on the study shares that adoption of these six healthy lifestyle behaviors could avert about 73 percent of coronary heart disease (CHD) cases among women over 20 years.
The research showed that when you start adopting healthy heart habits and continue to add more to your repertoire, your Coronary Heart Disease risk lowers. And there’s no better time to start than today.
This article was originally published on The Heart Health Doctors, a blog written by OhioHealth cardiologists, Anne Albers, MD and Kanny Grewal, MD
Dr. Anne Albers is a cardiologist with OhioHealth in Columbus, Ohio. She is a cardiovascular imaging specialist focusing on echocardiography, cardiac stress testing, and vascular studies. Dr. Albers maintains an active consultative cardiovascular practice; her clinical interests include cardiovascular disease management for women, cardiac issues for athletes, primary and secondary prevention of heart and vascular disease, and heart disease in diabetes. At OhioHealth, she developed the Women’s Heart & Vascular Program, is co-director of the Sports Cardiology Program, and is a member of the OhioHealth Vascular Institute.
She holds RVT (VT) designation from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, is a diplomate of the American Board of Vascular Medicine and is a member of the Society for Vascular Medicine. She was the first social media editor for the journal Vascular Medicine, Journal for the Society for Vascular Medicine and serves on the Vascular Medicine editorial board.