A woman’s heart weighs between 250 and 300 grams and is roughly the size of her clenched fist. Though the workings of the cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory system are identical to that of men, there are mild structural differences between them. A woman’s heart is smaller in size, and arteries from the heart are marginally narrower and more curved.
This difference of size, weight and structure gives her an inherent disadvantage in terms of the volume of blood pumped per beat, resting rate, absolute power generated by muscles to do a strenuous task. Combine this with narrower blood vessels and the chances of lower tolerance to plaque and cholesterol build-up is steep.
Apart from these inherent drawbacks, factors such as weight, smoking, heredity, aging, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol intake and response to stress form the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in women. It will come as a pleasant surprise that 7 out of these 10 factors are in your control. Here are 5 essentials that should be a part of your daily life:
1. Right Nutrition: Eating right will take care of 4 things at one go – weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and to some extent, diabetes. Women should aim at wholemeal cereals, fish proteins, low fat milk, cottage cheese, fruits and vegetables low on sucrose, glucose content.
2. Eating Habits: Continual snacking on wrong foods is a primary cause of weight gain. Eat small portion meals every 2-3 hours. Fill them up with fiber bulk (fruits, vegetables, nuts etc). Avoid sugar-added beverages. Alcohol should be kept to bare minimum if not zero. A glass of red wine daily is recommended though a no-no for diabetics. Drinking plain water is best.
3. Workouts: Increasing the level of your physical activity will take care of weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and to some extent response to stress, blood pressure and diabetes.