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Prevent Heart Disease in Women
Your heart is one impressive, overachieving organ: In the minute it takes you to read these paragraphs, it will have pushed a whopping 1.5 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels—that's more than twice the circumference of Earth.
Yet despite your ticker's superpowers (and the fact that it keeps you, well, alive), most women don't do enough to safeguard their heart health.
That's right, we're talking to you. Heart disease is the number one killer of all women, says health advocate and former U.S. surgeon general Richard Carmona, M.D.
"It can and does affect young people," he stresses. In other words, it's not just a problem for geezers. The following are simple lifestyle tweaks that can help you live a long, healthy life.
Have More Sex [!!!!!!!!]Getting busy at least twice a week can reduce your risk for heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing stress, says ob-gyn Andrew Scheinfeld, M.D., a clinical instructor at New York University Langone Medical Center. You'll still be helping your heart even if you never reach the Big O; researchers suspect that just being aroused can trigger your brain to release hormones such as dehydro-epiandrosterone (DHEA), which may improve circulatory-system function and boost cardiac performance.
Drink Wine with DinnerYes, you read that right. In moderation, booze can actually benefit your heart. Drinking one—we repeat, one—glass of red or white wine a day can decrease the chance of dying from heart disease by 25 percent.
Skip the SaltDespite conflicting headlines, you should still bypass most saltshakers, says cardiologist Ashley Simmons, M.D., of the University of Kansas Hospital. Your body counteracts sodium intake by releasing extra water into the blood, leading to increased blood volume and a seriously overworked heart.
Snag Enough SleepFrequently missing out on Z's can take a toll on your ticker in the form of high blood pressure, and we're not just talking about older folks. Nearly 20 percent of people from 24 to 32 years old already have the problem, which has few symptoms but can eventually lead to heart failure, according to a new study in the journal Epidemiology. Aim for around seven to eight hours of sleep a night, says Barbara Phillips, M.D., a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Get a Move onConsider this: On a minute-by-minute basis, your heart muscle labors twice as hard as your leg muscles during a sprint. And you have to work your heart out to keep it working. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (think brisk walking or cycling) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise (i.e., cardio that's intense enough to make carrying on a conversation difficult), plus strength training at least twice a week. But the most important aspect of exercise is making it a habit. "Time is not as important as frequency," says Scott Danberg, director of fitness at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami.