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Essential heart health tips for Black women

heart health

Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood daily. Yet, many of us don’t give it much thought until something goes wrong. Heart health is crucial, especially for Black women, who are often at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Understanding heart disease

Heart disease is not just a man’s problem; it’s everyone’s problem. More than 60 million women in the U.S. live with heart disease, including many in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Cardiovascular disease claims the life of one in three women annually in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Recognizing symptoms

The most common heart attack symptoms in women are similar to those in men: uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest. However, women are more likely to experience multiple warning signs that might not scream heart attack, such as indigestion, nausea, vomiting, back pain, arm pain, or extreme fatigue.

Healthy eating habits

Diet plays a significant role in heart health. Opt for plain low fat Greek yogurt, walnuts, and berries instead of sugary granola bars. These foods provide lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants, all of which help your heart function better.

When to start caring for your heart

It’s never too early to start caring for your heart. More than 75% of women aged 20 to 39 have one or more modifiable risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or being overweight.

Exercise recommendations

The American Heart Association (AHA) and CDC recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, such as walking, swimming, or dancing. If you prefer more vigorous activities like jogging or hiking, 75 minutes per week can suffice.

The importance of sleep

7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night is crucial for heart health. Lack of sleep can increase stress levels, cause weight gain, and lead to hormone imbalances, all of which contribute to heart disease.

Managing stress

Stress raises blood pressure and can lead to unhealthy choices. Activities that make you feel good, like playing with a pet, gardening, or meeting with a friend, can help manage stress levels.

Heart health should be a priority for everyone, especially Black women. By recognizing symptoms, adopting healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress, you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.