TODAY   |  January 25, 2014

What women can do to help prevent heart disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, but it’s not always a woman’s number one priority. Dr. Stacey Rosen, a cardiologist, and Sascha De Gersdorff of Women’s Health magazine shared tips on how women can stay healthy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back this morning with information that every woman needs to know about her heart. heart disease is the number one killer of women , but it is not always a woman's number one priority. dr. stacy rosen's a cardiologist who works with the american heart association . sasha is the "health and features" editor at " women 's health" magazine. nice to have you both with us this morning.

>> thank you for having us.

>> we put out a poll survey to find out just how much women actually know about their heart health.

>> absolutely.

>> some of these results were a little surprising. i'm going to have you run us through some of these. it turns out, a good amount of women are actually informed about heart disease , they said.

>> yes. well, i wouldn't say quite informed, but what they do want to do is care about protecting their heart, so that's what we found the majority of women say, yes, i'm aware, but that's kind of where it stops, and many of them are kind of clueless about how to protect their heart, about this heart health factors they should know about. for example, 70% of the women in our survey weren't quite clear on cholesterol, didn't really know the ins and outs. 50% were very confused about how much sodium they should be having to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

>> quickly, tell me, what is the correct number on sodium?

>> sodium, 1,500 milligrams or less.

>> every day.

>> hopefully less.

>> per day, yeah.

>> okay, so, we've got one of those cleared up. what's interesting, though, is 90% of us have some sort of a risk factor for heart disease . a lot of times, for people it's a family history. dr. rosen, is that something we can overcome?

>> absolutely. that's the great news about heart disease . more of us know that it's the number one killer of women . more women die a year of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, but 80% of heart disease is preventible. that's the great news.

>> which is great news, especially for women maybe in their 40s and 50s. when we're in our 20s, we think we're invincible, obviously, but in our 40s and 50s, there's still a lot we can do to improve our heart health. physical activity we hear a lot about.

>> sure.

>> 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity ?

>> 30 to 40 minutes. but the good news is that it really takes small steps that you incorporate into your daily life, and those small steps can have a huge impact on your heart health.

>> other small steps , like making wise food choices. whole grains, as we know, whole foods, sleeping more. i feel like every day we hear about the benefits of sleep.

>> the magic number is six to eight hours, and i know every woman thinks she's too busy to get that time in, but it's really important to make it part of your life.

>> and it definitely pays off. i was surprised with this one. in managing your stress, noise can be a big factor.

>> absolutely. now, studies show that noise pollution , which a lot of people don't even think about, especially if you live in a city, can actually cause your body to sort of amp up your stress level, and that, in turn, stresses out your heart. so, if you live in a big city , if you live near an airport, get some ear plugs, try to have some quiet time worked into your day.

>> okay. regular heart checks are also important starting in your 20s. you do that was, every five years?

>> never too early. the abnormalities in our blood vessels can start as early as in our 20s. the american heart association 's go red for women campaign is wonderful in reminding us that even in your 20s, it's important to start getting heart checkups.

>> great. and you can do that with your regular doctor, don't have to see a cardiologist. quickly, we know red wine and dark chocolate are supposedly good for your heart. i love those. what are two other things?

>> two other things, pea, either the green or black variety, great at improving artery function. and happy hour! but one drink. one drink or less per day.

>> within limits.

>> every day, all right.

>> so nice to have you here. thanks again.

>> thanks for having us.

>> and thanks for part naerg with us.