Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women and Americans experience 54 percent more heart attacks in winter than in summer. Winter heart attacks tend to be more serious, with a 9 percent fatality rate. Some experts believe the seasonal fluctuations may be due to the added physical strain of dealing with shoveling snow and plunging temperatures. Recent studies have suggested that sunlight plays a crucial role. There is well-documented evidence to support that moderate exposure to sunlight protects against heart disease.

Although heart disease was once considered a “male” disease research shows that it is the number one killer of women. In fact, more women die of heart disease each year than all forms of cancer combined. When a woman has a heart attack, the symptoms may be somewhat different and less extreme than in men. In some cases, heart attacks in women may mimic a sore throat, stomach ache or severe muscle pain. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, sudden weakness or fatigue, heart palpitations, skipped heartbeats, racing heart, dizziness, nausea and pains in the arm, neck or chest.

There are many risk factors for heart attack that are within our control. Regular exercise is a simple thing that can have a profound effect on our overall health, especially our hearts. The food we eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to offer significant heart health benefits. Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and slow the growth of plaque in our hearts. It can also aid in improving hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. Some research has even shown that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy heart but they aren't manufactured in the body. Consequently we must obtain Omega 3 fatty acids through supplements or through the foods we eat

According to a recent study conducted at Duke University Medical Center, people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70% if they learn how to manage stress. The study concluded that patients with heart disease who used stress management techniques reduced their risk of a future heart attack or of needing cardiac surgery.

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