/ Published 9:00 AM EST / Iris Oberlaender, Staff Writer

How to prevent heart disease in women

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, takes many lives prematurely. What many don’t know is that women are affected equally to men.

  • CVD is the number one killer of women around the world, representing 1/3 of all deaths among women.
  • In Canada, heart disease and stroke claim the lives of 33,000 women each year.
  • An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases.

While some CVD risk factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history, can’t be changed, 4 out of 5 premature deaths can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. 

We care about our customers living full, healthy lives. That’s why we recently partnered with the World Heart Federation to raise awareness around better heart health. Check out these tips to prevent women’s heart disease:

7 heart-healthy tips

  1. Get active. 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week reduces the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Try 30 minutes a day or 15 minutes twice a day. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, dancing, housework, and gardening.
  2. Stop smoking. If you stop now and remain smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease will be half within 1 year and return to a normal level over time. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of a heart attack so make sure to avoid smoke-filled environments.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. A woman who is obese, even if physically active, increases her risk of coronary disease by 2.48 times compared to a woman with normal weight. Take steps to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. 
  4. Know your numbers. Women tend to keep a lot of numbers in their heads, but these 5 are the most important numbers for heart health: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).  Knowing those numbers will allow you and your healthcare provider to determine your risk for developing CVD.
  5. Eat healthy foods. Load up on water, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain products, lean meat and legumes. Go easy on processed foods, salt, sugar, saturated and trans fats. Following a plan for healthy eating such as the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet, can help reduce high blood pressure.
  6. Know the warning signs. The symptoms of heart attack can be different in women and are often misunderstood. Women are more likely to have nontraditional symptoms of heart attack than men. They are also more likely to have silent heart attacks. Get familiar with the symptoms to protect yourself and the women you know.
  7. Take your meds. Carefully take any medication your doctor has prescribed, especially if you’re taking medications to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. Managing conditions that increase your risk of developing CVD are an important step in prevention.

You’re doing it! Remember to keep track of your progress. You should feel proud about of you do for your own and your family’s health.

Wear red for the women you love

On June 9, expect to see lots of red in Cambridge, ON at Whistle Bear Golf Club, the site of Manulife’s LPGA Classic. Golfers, caddies, volunteers and spectators will be showing their support for women’s heart health as part of Red Day. The event supports the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation, the official charity partner of the Manulife LPGA Classic for the sixth consecutive year.

Whether you’re at the golf course or not, you can still join in the fun through social media. Tweet a photo of you wearing red to @Manulife using the hashtag #RedDayFriday.

Another way to support cardiac care is donating to St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation. Manulife will match your donation dollar for dollar*! All proceeds are directed in support of the local Cardiac Care Centre in Kitchener, ON.

Living a healthy lifestyle is good for you. But did you know that moving more and eating well can help you earn rewards? Find out more at Manulife Vitality (Canada), John Hancock Vitality (U.S.), and ManulifeMOVE (Hong Kong, Macau, China, Philippines). 

These heart-healthy tips are intended to help you make simple lifestyle changes. If you have any concerns about your health, please talk to your doctor.

*Until June 11, 2017, Manulife will match all donations to St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation to a maximum amount of $80,000

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