Cardiovascular fitness

Healthy Heart Tips for Women

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States — claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. That includes an average of 64 women in Texas every day.

Dr. Sandra Illum

Dr. Sandra Illum

“Heart disease is both preventable and controllable if women take small steps every day to improve their heart health,” said Dr. Sandra Illum, a cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and at Heart First Cardiology, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice in Plano. “It’s important for women to recognize and monitor the risk factors for coronary artery disease with help from their physician.”

It’s also essential for women to know their family history, particularly the heart health of their parents and siblings, to lower their risk of heart disease and diabetes. Women with diabetes are three and a half times more likely to die from heart disease than women who don’t have diabetes — almost twice the relative risk for fatal heart disease in men with diabetes compared to those without.“It’s not always easy, but we know for certain that maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, being physically active and making healthy food choices all can dramatically decrease your risk of developing heart disease,” Illum said. “Incorporating these changes into your lifestyle can have a positive and sustained impact on your overall health and well-being.”


To reduce your chances of getting heart disease it’s important to:

  • Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Talk to your health care provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your chances of heart disease.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your health care provider.
  • Make healthy food choices. Being overweight and obese raises your risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.
  • Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.

Visit to learn more about your risk factors for heart disease.

Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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