It is imperative that every woman prioritizes their heart health. As it stands, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. It is twice as common as cancer, according to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a consultant for the Take Cholesterol to Heart campaign and an attending cardiologist in private practice at the Juhi-Ash Integrative Health Center in New York City.
In a recent study carried out by Reader’s Digest, it was revealed that only 52 percent of participants make a real effort to maintain their cholesterol health. In fact, fewer than 46 percent even discuss their heart health with their doctors.
6. High Cholesterol
Studies have shown that 95 million Americans have high cholesterol levels, which puts them at risk of developing heart disease. Elevated cholesterol has a direct link to high blood pressure and diabetes.
It is hard to tell if someone has high cholesterol because there is a significant lack of symptoms. Usually, if your cholesterol is high you have no idea unless your physician assesses the levels with testing.
High cholesterol causes a thick buildup of gunk inside the walls of our arteries, which can block blood supply and the flow of blood to both your brain and heart. Eventually, the buildup will lead to either a stroke or a heart attack.
5. Cholesterol and Women
Years ago, high cholesterol was thought to be a problem that affects mostly men. However, research reveals that this is not the case. In fact, a high number of women over the age of 20 suffer from high cholesterol, and it becomes even more common in women over the age of 60. Clearly, cholesterol is important for both men and women.
4. Diet and Exercise
If you plan on managing your high cholesterol, then the first step is to follow a healthy diet. Eat a diet of healthy foods that provide valuable nutrients and not empty calories. Focus on foods such as multi-grains, vegetables, fruits, and fats that are packed with omega-3 acids. Olive oil, flaxseed, and fish are all ideal additions to your diet.
The American Heart Association suggests that women exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Pick a form of aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping. Join a gym, take a bike ride, or go for a walk. Pick a form of exercise that fits your lifestyle and meets your physical needs.
3. Lifestyle Changes and Medication
Sometimes, making lifestyle changes is just not enough, and a person must take a prescription medication to lower their cholesterol levels. Statins are often used to lower cholesterol.
Statin is a class of medications that lower the levels of cholesterol produced by your liver and then help remove them from the blood. They work quickly and efficiently to lower cholesterol. After taking the medication, you’ll need to have your levels rechecked in four weeks to make sure the meds are working.
2. Women and Statin Risk Factors
When taking statins, women often face additional risk factors.
“Some cardiovascular risk factors for women are not shared by men and cannot be changed: post-menopausal status, prior hysterectomy, oral contraceptive use, pregnancy, and its complications,” says Dr. Kelly Mudon, Family Medicine Physician and Core Faculty for the Teaching Health Center at Community Health of South Florida, Inc.
Many women do not want to use statins to treat high cholesterol because they are difficult to tolerate. Women often start them and then stop. Many times, they don’t even discuss the situation with their physician before discontinuing the medication.
1. Side Effects and Changing Statins
If a woman starts experiencing side effects taking statins, then they should discuss these with their physician. A different strain of statin might be an option.
Statins remind the number one choice for the treatment of high cholesterol. They are safe and highly effective at bringing down elevated levels, especially if used in conjunction with a healthy diet and ample exercise. However, it should be noted that the body does not process all statins the same.
Everyone responds to statins differently. Individual factors that can impact how the medication works, including age, ethnicity, medical history, and any other prescriptions.
Those in danger of side effects include:
- Anyone taking multiple medications
- Those over 80 years old
- Having liver disease
- Those with kidney disease
- Individuals with a small body frame
- Anyone who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol
- Having hypothyroidism
- Suffering from neuromuscular disorders
Your physician will evaluate your risk before prescribing statins and then will closely monitor your physical health while you are on the medication. At the first sign of a problem, you should consult with your physician immediately instead of discontinuing the prescription.
Sometimes seeking natural ways to treat your elevated cholesterol is a better option than statins. Many physicians will try to suggest dietary changes and exercise prior to prescribing statins. You’ll want all options to bring down your cholesterol.