1. Health

Prevent Heart Disease

Leading Cause of Death in U.S. Women


Updated October 30, 2009

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States. While it’s true that the majority of women still believe that breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women, the truth is that more women die of heart disease each year than die of all types of cancer combined. Sadly, the fact is that only 13% of women are even aware that heart disease is number one killer of U.S. women. Almost 500, 000 different women lose their lives to heart disease annually: Women who are moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters, and daughters. The good news is that heart disease is the most preventable cause of death in women. Heart disease prevention is easy, if you follow a few simple tips:

  1. Don’t smoke or if you already do smoke, quit. Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and other heart diseases including hypertension or high blood pressure. If you smoke, think about it: Do you really want a cigarette to decide when it’s time for you to go? Start today to take steps to quit smoking.

  2. Exercise, exercise, exercise At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as walking or other aerobic activities, on most days helps prevent heart disease. If thirty minutes is too long for you, start with 10-minute increments during the day. Increase your exercise time by 5 or 10 minutes every other week or as often as you fell comfortable. Believe it or not, before you know it, you’ll actually look forward to your exercise time.
    Tip: If you have high blood pressure when you begin regular physical activity, make sure that you monitor you blood pressure regularly. You’re new; healthier, physical condition may mean that you no longer have high blood pressure. Never stop blood pressure medication without see your healthcare provider, first.

  3. Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet is one that includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and dairy. This is an essential part of heart disease prevention, as well as overall good health. Read the USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines, and use the tools available at MyPyramid.gov to learn how to follow an individualized eating plan and exercise routine.

  4. Use alcohol only in moderation. Women should limit themselves to one alcoholic beverage per day. Of course, not drinking alcohol at all is even better.

Following the four steps outlined above will reduce your risk of heart disease substantially. Another benefit of following these heart disease prevention steps is that you’ll also be preventing or reducing your risk of obesity, stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many types of cancer.


Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Heart Disease Prevention: What You Can Do.

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