The number of women who have heart attacks increases dramatically once you turn 55, especially after menopause. There are many factors that affect your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some, like age, race and family history, you can’t control. But others, such as obesity, stress, smoking and cholesterol, you can. If you are at risk, for any reason, take your heart health seriously.
Begin by knowing what your numbers are. That is, when your physician orders lab tests at your annual check-up, ask to see (and retain a copy) of your lab tests and know how your results stack up against these optimal benchmarks, which measure your risk for heart disease and diabetes, from the American Heart Association (AHA).
- Total Cholesterol: <200 mg/dL L
- DL (“bad”) cholesterol: <100mg/dL
- HDL(“good”) cholesterol: 50mg/dL or higher
- Triglycerides: <150mg/dL
- Fasting Glucose <100mg/dL
The AHA offers many helpful tools, from online trackers to healthy diet tips, to help you learn about and monitor your heart health. When you sign up for their “Go Red for Women” program, you can take a “heart check up” to assess your cardiovascular health factors, and receive a free 12-week online nutrition and fitness program and coaching tools.
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