Headaches may lead to heartaches as well. Women who experience migraines with visual or sensory disturbance at least once a month are twice as likely to develop heart disease, says a study published in June by the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Alvarez says circulation irregularities that cause the severe headaches may contribute to heart problems. "If you find a vascular abnormality in one territory of the body, you're likely to find it in another," he says.
Do this. Mind the warning sign. Talk with your physician about what a migraine may mean for your heart. Circulatory problems anywhere in the body should stimulate doctors to look for other areas of the body affected as well, Dr. Alvarez says.
5. Eating and drinking plastic
Toss your plastic water bottles into a recycling bin. According to a University of Cincinnati study, the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) found in hard plastic food and beverage containers can produce an estrogenlike molecule that mimics estrogen's effects, creating a heightened risk for heart disease in women. Dr. Alvarez says BPA "could create too much estrogen or block the effects of its benefits."
Do this. Replace # 7 plastic food containers and water bottles—that's the type likely to contain BPA—with stainless steel, glass, or ceramic ones. If you're not ready to banish other types of plastic containers, be sure you never heat them up, since this can cause other chemicals to leach into their contents.
6. Marital stress
Frequent arguments in your relationship may increase a woman's odds of an actual broken heart. A University of Utah study found women suffering from marital stress were at risk for additional symptoms of heart disease. Differences in hormones and how the sexes handle stress may explain why men were not similarly affected. "Women's hearts are very different than men's hearts in terms of circulation and receptors they have for certain hormones," says Dr. Alvarez.
Do this. Take a deep breath. Stress can result in high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and depression. Dr. Alvarez suggests people with difficulties controlling stress should seek help with coping. "We all have stress and how we respond is very different, but there are methods to deal with your perception of stress and limit it," he says. Try stress-reduction tactics like regular exercise, yoga, and mindfulness mediation. For relationship-related stress, discuss the option of marital counseling with your partner.
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