This guest post was written by Molly Schroeder, heart attack survivor and an American Heart Association Go Red for Women Real Woman.
A month before I started my senior year of college, my mother passed away at age 58 due to a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lung. Just 6 weeks later, at age 21, I had a 90 percent blockage in a coronary artery and survived a heart attack.
After these two life-changing events, I searched for a new “normal.” Topping the list was to make my health my priority.
Women like me are joining the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement to take a stand against heart disease, the No. 1 killer that claims the life of a woman every 80 seconds. Many cardiac events are preventable. Together, we’re spreading awareness and inspiring others to take action so that more grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts and friends can live longer and healthier.
It’s been six years since my heart attack. Thankfully, I haven’t had another incident, in part because I now exercise and watch what I eat to reduce the risks of having another cardiac event. Most importantly, I watch my sodium intake. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. Did you know that one in 10 cardiovascular deaths worldwide are linked to consuming too much sodium?
My goal is to get no more than 1,800 mg of sodium a day. This is in line with the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 2,300 mg a day, with the ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
Here are a few tips to help you eat less sodium:
- Read nutrition labels: Know how much sodium is in each serving and in the whole package.
- Don’t add it: Skip the salt shaker, and use other flavor enhancers instead of salt when cooking.
- Rethink that sandwich: Condiments and toppings you add to your sandwich or burger may be packed with sodium. To add a little something to enhance the taste, try fresh herbs, vegetables or fruits. (Sandwiches, bread, deli meats, burritos and tacos are all Salty Six culprits.)
- Make it yourself: Frozen, canned and prepackaged foods can be loaded with sodium. Look for options with less salt or make them at home.
- Lay off the cheese: Living in the dairy state of Wisconsin, this is a challenge for me. But with the amount of sodium in each slice of cheese, it’s easy to quickly hit your daily sodium limit.
If you’re looking for an empowering community of women to help you stay on track with your health goals, join the #GoRedGetFit team on Facebook. Then share it with your family and friends.
You can also join me as a relentless supporter of women’s health on National Wear Red Day, Friday, Feb. 1. I encourage you to wear red to raise awareness and donate to help save lives.
Will you Go Red with us on Feb. 1?