Take Charge of your Heart Health

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Take heart, ladies! You have the power to take charge of your health.

"Health providers have an excellent body of knowledge, but women have a wonderful knowledge of their bodies," said nurse practitioner Laura Padron.

That means it's particularly important for women to know the symptoms for a heart attack – because they aren't necessarily the same as for a man – and listen to their bodies for cues.

"Often times, women will present to the emergency room with shortness of breath, pain in their jaw or shoulder and be in the process of an active heart attack," Padron says. "Women must listen to their bodies and understand that heart disease symptoms include shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and pain in their arm, jaw or abdomen.

To reduce the chance of it happening to you, take these five tips to heart:

  • Stop smoking. Smokers are two to six times more likely to have a heart attack.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Being overweight causes many preventable deaths.
  • Get a move on! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days.
  • Eat for your heart. Choose a diet high in vegetables and low in fat.
  • Get checked. Talk to your doctor about your numbers – specifically, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.