Seven Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Women Prevent Heart Disease

NEW YORK, NY (February 3, 2014) -- Nearly half a million women die each year of heart disease and stroke, yet women continue to lag behind in their understanding of this disease and how it affects them. In fact, over the past decade younger women ages 35–44 have experienced the greatest increase in deaths caused by heart disease.

Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a cardiologist at the Center for Advanced Cardiac Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, offer women seven simple steps to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

1.    Take a break. Stress is a leading contributor to heart disease and stroke. Take a deep breath, laugh, stretch, or meditate at least twice a day to relieve stress. Remember, people who focus on the part of the glass that is half-full live longer, with less disease.

2.    Get up and move.  Walking for 20–30 minutes a day can be a lifesaver. Just getting your heart rate up for this period of time can reduce your risk of premature death by 50 percent or more.

3.    Put down the cigarette. The single best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking. Even smoking just a few cigarettes a day more than doubles your risk of heart disease. Your risk begins to fall within a few months after you quit and returns to the level of nonsmokers within 3–5 years regardless of the amount smoked.

4.    Just say NO to fast foods.  Most people think of ice cream, French fries and donuts as comfort foods, but they are actually working against you. These processed foods are loaded with salt and ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup that drain you of energy and speed up the aging process. Consuming less salt overall is a good idea to decrease your risk of heart disease.

5.    Get on the Mediterranean diet. This means eating primarily fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with a healthy fat such as olive oil; using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor your food; eating red meat a few times a month; and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week. You may also drink red wine in moderation if you like.

6.    Get a good night's sleep. You should try to sleep an average of 7–8 hours every night. Lack of sleep increases your blood pressure, induces stress, increases your appetite, and slows down your metabolism

7.    Listen to your body. A 2010 American Heart Association survey found that just over half of American women would call 911 if they believed they were having a heart attack. Put yourself first and call 911 if you think you are having a heart attack. .

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive hospitals, with some 2,600 beds. In 2012, the Hospital had nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits, including 12,758 deliveries and 275,592 visits to its emergency departments. NewYork-Presbyterian’s 6,144 affiliated physicians and 20,154 staff provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at six major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation’s leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. For more information, visit