Women are more at risk of dying from a heart attack than men, partly because we don't recognize the symptoms, which can be more subtle than the cinematic heart-clenching ones typically seen in men.
One study of 30 women younger than 50 who'd had heart attacks found that most failed to realize they were having one, mistaking it for fatigue, indigestion, stress, or overexertion.
Finding out what puts you at risk for a heart attack can help you learn what precautionary steps to take in avoiding one.
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Learn your family history
Diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure all can run in families, hiking your risk. (In fact, having a mother or father with early heart disease can raise your risk by 25 to 50 percent.)
If you know risks early, you can address them early.
A 2009 Harvard study found that women whose diets most closely resembled the Mediterranean onemore vegetables, beans, nuts, and monounsaturated fats, and less meathad a 29 percent lower risk of heart disease, compared with those whose diets were least like it.
Turns out your waistline is really important: Research suggests that having a larger waist size, even if you're not obese, may be a predictor of heart disease in women.
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Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day and weight-train twice a week to lower your percentage of body fat.
Exercise alone can reduce your risk of heart attacks by 35 to 50 percentand we're not talking boot camp here: Women who gain the most benefit are those who were relatively inactive before beginning regular moderate exercise.
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You're still at increased risk up to five years after quitting, but the risk steadily decreases.
Having trouble quitting? Talk to your doc about the latest strategies.
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