Yesterday was International Women's Day. In this short video clip, pharmacist Sherry Torkos, co-author of Saving Women's Hearts, stopped by the WLS studios in Washington DC to chat with news anchors about women's heart health.
For too long, Torkos said women have taken the “bikini approach” to their health, worrying about cancers of the breast and pelvic area. Yet heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
While these statistics are alarming, the good news is that there are simple steps that women can take to protect their hearts. Below are five ways to a healthier lifestyle that can save your heart.
1. Get another hour sleep. A recent Sleep in America poll reported that only half of women are getting adequate sleep (seven to eight hours). Lack of sleep can raise blood pressure, trigger inflammation, and promote atherosclerosis. Getting six hours of sleep or less per night has been found to increase women’s risk of heart disease, independent of other risk factors (such as smoking).
2. Cook with palm oil rather than olive oil. Olive oil is great to use in salad dressings or add to foods after it is cooked, but it is not heat stable and its beneficial properties are lost when it is heated to high temperatures. Palm oil is heat stable and contains potent antioxidants called tocotrienols that are good for the heart. Plus is it naturally free of trans fatty acids. Among famous brands containing heart healthy palm oil are Nutella, Carotino and some Smart Balance products.
3. Give yoga a try. Yoga is an effective way to reduce stress, improve sleep and lower blood pressure. Once you learn the techniques and poses, it is something that is free and easy to incorporate into even the busiest schedule.
4. Laugh more. Laughing relaxes and expands blood vessels, which helps protect the heart. Negative emotions such as anger, hostility, worry and pessimism are associated with increased risk of heart disease, whereas the opposite traits are protective.
5. Be optimistic. Research conducted in more than 97,000 women found that optimists have lower rates of heart disease. Stress is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially in women. Adopt strategies to better deal with stress such as deep breathing and meditation. Stay away from prescription tranquilisers as they only offer a bandage approach to stress, and are associated with numerous side effects and risks.