Southeastern Health

The female heart: Protect it at any age

If you're a woman, perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about heart disease is this: You don't need gray hair to get it--or die from it.

It's true that heart disease primarily kills women 65 and older. In fact, it's the No. 1 cause of death for American women in that age group.

However, the disease is also the second leading cause of death among women 45 to 64 years old and the third one among women 25 to 44 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That's why it's crucial to protect your heart no matter how many birthdays you've celebrated. The CDC and the American Heart Association recommend that you:

  1. Choose a heart-healthy diet. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole-grain foods, such as brown rice and whole-grain breads. Heart-smart protein options include lean meats, fish and beans.
  2. Try to limit the overall amount of fat in your foods, and replace saturated and trans fats (like butter or partially hydrogenated oils) with healthy oils, like olive and canola. Also, pay attention to portion size.
  3. Move more. Most adults need to do at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) every week, along with exercises that work all the major muscle groups two or more days a week.
  4. Make it personal. Talk with your doctor about specific risk factors that can raise your risk of developing heart disease and what you can do to lower them. Those risks might include:

    • Smoking.

    • Having diabetes, high blood cholesterol or high blood pressure.

    • Being overweight.

    • Drinking alcohol.

Also, ask your doctor how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack--they are sometimes different in women than in men--and what to do if you or someone else has them.

Southeastern Heart Center, which is managed by Duke Medicine and located on the campus of Southeastern Regional Medical Center, will host the 4th annual “Take it to Heart” Red Dress Luncheon and Fashion Show on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Lumberton Senior High School. In addition to a healthy lunch and a fashion show featuring patients of Southeastern Heart Center and emceed by WKML Radio Personality Don Chase, the program will include educational seminars and information about heart disease. To learn more about the fight against heart disease in women, logon on to To learn more about the Southeastern Heart Center, logon to

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