Simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of heart disease

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Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and happens to one third of women in the United States.

Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized menopause specialist from Spectrum Health, discusses how simple daily changes in a woman's lifestyle can prevent or delay heart disease.

Heart disease is caused by the gradual blockage of the arteries around the heart over time. When the blockage is large enough, or the plaque ruptures, it prevents blood from getting to the heart, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

According to Dr. Bitner, many women have signs and symptoms of heart disease, but don't know they have it. Plaque build up could take years before causing a heart attack or stroke, especially if the person is obese or has diabetes.

Common symptoms women fail to recognize are fatigue and exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, back or left shoulder pain, nausea, and out of control hot flashes.

Dr. Bitner says menopause increases the risk for a heart attack or stroke because estrogen levels drop. While women can't stop menopause, there are ways to lessen the risks.

Simple daily changes such as quitting smoking, cutting back on sugar, exercising, and getting enough sleep can add up to give real health benefits, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.

If you think you are at risk or have heart disease, Spectrum Health has many Heart Disease prevention Services including classes on nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and assessment for risk facts. A complete schedule can be found online.

Dr. Bitner's office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Drive Northwest, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with her, call (616) 267-8225.

All information was provided by Dr. Diana Bitner and her blog. Read more.

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