A decade-by-decade guide to women’s heart health

Heart Health

by Helen Hashemi, MD

Feb 2, 2024

Taking care of your heart is a lifelong responsibility—and it’s never too early to start! From your 20s to your 60s and beyond, you can incorporate heart healthy habits into your daily routine so you can live well for many years to come.

A decade-by-decade guide to heart health

Here’s a practical guide with simple steps to keep your heart in optimal shape at different stages of life.


Incorporate exercise into your life. Choose a sport or physical activity you enjoy and exercise regularly. Don’t smoke, limit fast food intake and stay away from illicit drugs.


Focus on healthy behaviors such as abstaining from smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation, engaging in daily physical activity and maintaining a heart-healthy diet. These habits are beneficial for cardiovascular health and can be maintained throughout your lifetime. Certain medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, lupus and migraines may increase the risk of heart disease, so it’s crucial to develop a good relationship with your primary care doctor.


Many women become pregnant in their 20s and 30s. Preeclampsia (a high blood pressure condition that can start after 20 weeks of pregnancy) and gestational diabetes can affect your pregnancy, as well as your lifelong heart health. During these demanding years when women are also navigating the complexities of work, childcare and concerns about aging parents, effective stress management becomes crucial to your heart’s health. Try to delegate tasks, practice time management and incorporate self-care rituals into your routine.


Prioritize your heart health by consistently tracking and controlling important health factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. Regular health assessments play a crucial role in maintaining and supporting heart health, so regular checkups with your doctor is key.


In your fifth decade, most women experience menopause. A decline in estrogen levels contribute to changes in lipid profiles (which test your levels of cholesterol), an increase in abdominal fat and changes to how your blood vessels function, potentially raising the risk of cardiovascular disease. At this stage of life, risk factor modification plays an important role in your health, so talk with your healthcare provider about changes you can make, such as walking more or adjusting your diet.

60s and beyond:

After age 60, women face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which is why it’s important to sustain heart-healthy habits, take any medications recommended by your doctor and monitor key health indicators. Educate yourself and be vigilant about recognizing symptoms of heart conditions, including chest discomfort, unusual fatigue, shoulder pain, nausea and jaw pain. This will ensure you can get the prompt attention you need for any potential cardiac issues. Regular checkups and proactive self-awareness are the best ways to maintain cardiovascular well-being in this age group.

A cardiologist can help you manage your heart health at every stage of life, find one near you.

About the Author

Dr. Hashemi is a cardiologist with Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas specializing in acute and chronic cardiac issues. She is passionate about preventive cardiology and helps patients focus on diet, lifestyle and risk factor modification.

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