May brings Mother’s Day—a time for flowers and a dining out celebration in her honor. What better way to celebrate our moms than by showing her we care about her health?
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“Keeping mom’s heart healthy is especially critical since we know that heart disease is the number one cause of death for women,” says Leslie Cho, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center. “After menopause, a woman’s risk for heart disease increases dramatically, and the average age for menopause is 51.4 years old.”
As estrogen levels decrease at menopause, the risk for heart disease risk increases because estrogren is a hormone that helps to regulate cholesterol levels. Dr. Cho recommends these four tips to help keep mom healthy.
Heart Disease and Women
8 million women currently live with heart disease in the U.S.
1 in 3 American women will die of heart disease.
435,000 American women are estimated to have heart attacks annually. Nearly two-thirds of the deaths from heart attacks in women occur among those who have no history of chest pain.
42 percent of women who have heart attacks die within one year, compared to 24 percent of men.
Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the survival gap continues to widen.
Get more facts from the American Heart Association!
1. Have regular checkups. As mothers work and take care of the house and family, they often forget about their own health. Make sure Mom takes the time to have an annual checkup to monitor her blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For Mother’s Day, make your mom an appointment at a center such as the Women’s Cardiovascular Center, which focuses on women and their special needs.
2. Exercise most days of the week. Decreased ability to exercise can be a sign of heart disease. If your mom is becoming a lot less active as she ages, make sure she sees a doctor to rule out any health issues. Then get her moving! If exercise is new for your mom, start by going for a walk with her a few times a week. Encourage her to increase her stamina.
3. Stay away from smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate and contributes to hardening of the arteries. If your mom smokes, talk to her about the dangers of it especially as she ages. Even one or two cigarettes a day greatly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health issues. It is never too late to add years to your life by quitting.
4. Eat moderately and eat heart healthy. As we age, we need just as many nutrients, but fewer calories to avoid weight gain. This is why it is so important for mom to choose her calories wisely. Her heart-healthy diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, beans and nuts. She should limit saturated fats and sodium and make sure she is getting enough calcium and B12.
“Talk to her about these key health indicators,” says Dr. Cho. “When you can, be healthy with her! There is nothing better than showing by example.” Spend a little quality time with her to focus on diet and exercise – it will be good for both of you!