Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one health threat to women.

According to Tyler Menke, M.D., family medicine physician with Mayo Clinic Health System, “Recipes and traditions are not the only thing passed from one generation to another. Health conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are also passed along. These factors can put you at higher risk for heart disease. It is important to know your family’s health history to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

For both men and women, there are some basic guidelines to follow that help lower risk for heart disease.

  1. Quit smoking, and encourage those around you to quit. According to the American Heart Association, smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among middle-aged men and women. It also decreases your HDL cholesterol and increases blood pressure.
  2. Exercise! Ideally, most people should engage in 30 -60 minutes of physical activity on most days to keep your heart healthy. If 30-60 minutes seems too daunting, remember that some exercise is better than no exercise. Start with what is comfortable and try to increase over time.
  3. Achieve a healthy weight. Obesity causes many of the conditions that contribute to heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes). Talk to a registered dietitian to create a healthy weight management program. Be cautious of fad or “wonder” diets. They may be dangerous, and will probably not give you the lasting results that are needed for a healthy heart.
  4. Reduce stress, which can lead you to adopting unhealthy habits, such as smoking and over-eating.
  5. Manage diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease. Talk to your health care provider about how to keep your diabetes under control.

Heart disease has the potential to affect all of us – but it doesn’t have to. Take deliberate steps to reduce your risks for heart disease. The lifestyle changes needed for a healthy heart may be a challenge, but prevention is much easier than recovery. Call Winneshiek Medical Center at 563-38-2911 to make an appointment with a doctor who can determine your personal risks and start you on the road to a healthy heart.