What Your Heart Needs Right Now

The American Heart Association's (AHA) new guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease in women recommend that all women age 20 and older see their doctor to learn their heart-disease risk.

Sobering fact: Heart disease is the leading cause of death among females in the U.S., but younger women often fail to recognize the danger. That's why the American Heart Association's (AHA) new guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease in women recommend that all women age 20 and older see their doctor to learn their heart-disease risk. Other highlights:

    Quit smoking -- with support. No need to take the cold-turkey approach! The AHA now recommends that smokers use counseling, nicotine replacement, and other forms of kick-butts therapy to ditch the habit.

    Don't rely on supplements. Taking vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and folic acid supplements shouldn't be your first line of defense against heart disease. Improve your diet instead: Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.

    Knock off extra pounds. If you're overweight, get at least 60 to 90 minutes of exercise on most (preferably all) days of the week. It sounds like a lot, but you don't have to do it all at once -- and walking counts!

    Trim the (saturated) fat. Slash your intake to less than 7 percent of your daily calories. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that translates to less than 16 grams of saturated fat. Avoid the worst culprits, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products.

      Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the July 2007 issue of Parents magazine.