My grandmother, for whom I’m named, was ne tough gal. Born and raised in Texas, she rode horses when she was diree and could shoot a gun when she was a teen. One hot summer’s day, my grandmother was walking in downtown Longview when she suddenly collapsed on the sidewalk. A few townspeople rushed over to help, but it was too late. My grandmother had died instantly of a heart attack. She was 47.1 never knew her.
This issue’s nutrition and fitness columns address heart health. I hope those of you, now in your midlife years, are doing all you can to keep your ticker ticking in good order. After women turn 50, their risk of cardiovascular disease increases with each decade. More women die of heart attack and stroke than breast cancer every year.
Study after study has shown that the more you exercise, the more your risk of a heart attack or stroke decreases. This is especially true for women, as shown in last year’s landmark study of 5,721 women called The St. James Women Take Heart Project in Chicago, published in the journal Circulation. See our fitness column for some fun ways to get active.
Diet, of course, is also crucial to good heart health. We know that saturated fat in red meats and dairy products, for example, increase cholesterol. Other foods like cookies, crackers and socalled energy bars that contain trans-fatty acids from hydrogenated oils also contribute to cardiovascular disease. (Read the labels! Avoid foods with hydrogenated oils!) But not all fats are bad. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy (see the Nutrition column, p. 6). Load up your plates with vegetables and snack on real fruit – five to 10 servings a day are recommended.
If you have a family history of cardiovascular disease or have high cholesterol or blood pressure, this message is especially for you. But to all readers, please take good care of your heart. Your grandchildren, nieces and nephews will thank you.
June Rogers, Editor
Copyright Initiatives for Women’s Health, Inc. Nov/Dec 2004
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