Each year, heart disease and stroke kill more than 500,000 women. "That equates to about one death a minute," calculates LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
"That’s more lives than are claimed by the next seven causes of death combined, and it’s nearly twice as many as claimed by all forms of cancer, including breast cancer," the nutritionist points out. She recommends adopting heart-health goals for women developed by the American Heart Association:
• Total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter. (A deciliter - dL - is 100 milliliters. A milliliter is one thousandth of a liter, or 0.0338 fluid ounce.)
• Bad (LDL, or low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol goals (these vary): For people with no heart disease and one or no risk factors, the goal is less than 160 mg/dL; for most people with two or more risk factors, the goal is less than 130 mg/dL; and for people with heart disease or diabetes, the goal is less than 100 mg/dL.
• Good (HDL, high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher.
• Triglycerides, less than 150 mg/dL.
• Blood pressure, less than 120/80 mmHg.
• Fasting glucose, less than 110 mg/dL.
• Body mass index (BMI), less than 25.
• Waist circumference, less than 35 inches.
"To help keep your heart healthy, get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most or all days of the week," the LSU AgCenter nutritionist emphasizes.
Reames advises eating a balanced diet favoring fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereal and grain products, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meats.
Don’t smoke. If you do, stop.
For information on related family and consumer topics, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, log on to the Family and Consumer Sciences section under the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture