Living a healthy lifestyle is important for all women, but recent research highlights the years leading up to menopause as a critical time to prevent cardiovascular disease. Healthy habits adopted before menopause can help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease for the rest of your life.
The American Heart Association has defined ideal cardiovascular health based on seven risk factors, Life's Simple 7, that people can improve through lifestyle changes: smoking status, physical activity, weight, diet, blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Poor diet, smoking and other unhealthy habits begun earlier in life can also take a toll over the years. Fewer than 10% of women in menopause get the recommended amount of physical activity, and fewer than 20% maintain a healthy diet.
The good news is, it’s never too late to make healthy changes and reduce your risk.
- Exercise – Women should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week to help lower their risk of heart disease.
- Eat healthy – Getting vitamins, minerals, fiber and other essential nutrients from the food you eat is important during and after menopause. You may need fewer calories for energy than you did before menopause. Talk to your health care team about your specific nutritional needs.
- Quit smoking – Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States and is linked to heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. Plus, women who smoke cigarettes are likely to start menopause about a year earlier than nonsmokers.
- Manage stress – Stress can impact your overall well-being. Be sure you’re managing your stress and getting plenty of sleep.
- Find support - If you’re looking for support, join the #GoRedGetFit Facebook group. #GoRedGetFit is a community of survivors dedicated to supporting each other while making healthy choices.
Your health care team can guide you on what your body needs, but you can use the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – seven risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health – as a guide.