Heart Disease in Women

Heart Disease is the number one killer of women, and is not slowing down the race against Cancer, which is the number two. This is a sobering fact women must take seriously. The Office for Women’s Health states over 60 million women have some form of heart disease.  Like other scary things, we must face this fear by educating ourselves and taking precaution which help mitigate the chances of getting heart disease.  

What are the causes of Heart Disease?

The CDC states that Heart Disease is caused by several factors, including: 

  • High Blood Pressure
  • High LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Excess weight
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress and Depression 
Smoking Leads to Heart Disease

Could stress be the biggest culprit causing heart disease in women?

My personal theory, unscientific and certainly not bound by medical knowledge, is that stress is a big culprit in causing heart disease.  In a large study titled, Women Want More,  they looked at women from across the world from multiple economic statuses.  The study overwhelming found that most women “wanted” the same thing, more time with their families doing something they enjoy.  If you look at the evolution of women over the last 100 years, our roles have changed, contributing to more stress.  This is not to say that women in the 20thcentury didn’t have stress, but today’s stresses are different.  Women asked for equal and more pay, equal and more responsibilities in the workplace, more and equal power in voting and politics (local and National), and really just equal or more of everything.  Although there is still a long way to go, we now have MORE.  More of just about everything; however, we didn’t give up too many of our traditional roles.  While it might not be true in your household, many women do more, in addition to taking care of the kids, the shopping, the laundry, the pets, the carpools, the… chores.  Do you know what most women aren’t doing?  Taking care of themselves.  I believe this lack of selfcare, is increasing heart disease among women.

too much todo

How do women mitigate the risk of getting heart disease?

The Mayo Clinic recommends some of the following strategies to prevent heart disease:

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco
  • Exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes a day
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Get regular health screenings

Managing stress to prevent heart disease in women

All of the resources researched in preparing this article talked about managing stress to prevent heart disease.  This seems too easy, but the reality is that life can just get in the way.  This is why I value shooting sports so much in terms of my stress reduction plan.  My own stress is often manifested by taking on too many things to do (MORE), while not feeling successful in accomplishing all the more tasks.  This becomes a vicious cycle like I am stuck inside a tornado waiting to disappear into thin air either completely, or be spit out like a limp rag doll.  I hope this gives you a cartoon like visual to describe my feeling.  When stress sets in, my mind is filled with the unending “more” lists, and I spend less and less time taking care of myself, not eating right…there is no time; and not exercising…there is no time.  Then wow, what a cocktail of factors that cause heart disease in women.  This is my time to head to the range, to clear my head and feel good about myself.  When I am shooting, it requires my full focus, I must concentrate on all the steps to ensure my safety and achieve accuracy.  I promise, you’re not thinking about what’s for dinner when you are at full draw with a bow, or about to squeeze the trigger of a pistol or rifle. This is the time for concentration, followed by a time of self-congratulations.  I wish I could explain the feeling of aiming at a target and hitting where you aim, suffice to say, it is a self-gratifying experience that just makes you feel good about yourself, and definitely reduces stress. 

Karen Butler with Hoyt bow and Magpul sunglasses

Take time for yourself

Despite the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women, we can change this fact by following the steps to mitigate the risk, and taking time for ourselves. I challenge you to go and find a Safe LivinG Events or Shoot Like A Girl event near you, and learn that wonderful feeling of aiming at a target and hitting it!

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