Women's Heart Health: Things You Need to Know
Heart Disease is the number one cause of death for women.
As we prepare for the end of the year, the topic of Women’s Heart Health (WHH), is still necessary today. February is recognized as Women’s Heart Health month, but the conversation should always remain, year round. Novant Health would like to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of yourself, through preventative care habits. Novant Health is recognized as a leading healthcare system in Charlotte, North Carolina.
So…let’s talk about it…
Did you know that heart disease is the number-one cause of death for women? If not, please understand that a lack of awareness can put you at a higher risk (if you can’t identify some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, then you can’t protect yourself). When I mention “heart disease,” also known as Coronary Heart Disease, I’m referring to the disorder of blood vessels of the heart, that can lead to a heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery is blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. Heart disease can be seen in many forms such as heart failure, cardiac arrest, heartburn, and many others.
You may wonder, “How will I know if I’m at risk?” One way that you can detect heart disease early on, is by reflecting on your daily habits…
How is your diet? What are you consuming every day?
Are you exercising on a consistent basis?
Are you a smoker?
What is your family health history? Have you had that conversation with your family? (you may not be able to control this risk factor, but being aware helps in knowing what steps to take in heart disease management).
Do you know your numbers? When was your last annual physical examination?
80% of heart disease is preventable
Examining your own daily habits, will most definitely help in practicing preventative care habits. But, heart disease is not something you can just cure with an over-the-counter drug. So, don’t take this lightly. It is a lifelong disease that has to be managed with healthy habits. Before we dive into preventative care habits, let’s look at some signs & symptoms of heart disease…
Shortness of breath while active, and in a supine (lying down) position.
Fatigue and weakness
Dizziness or light-headed
Heartburn or Stomach pain
Reduced ability to exercise
If and when you recognize any of these signs and symptoms, connect with a heart specialist! A heart specialist will give guidance on what steps to take in preventing and managing heart disease. While having this conversation with a heart specialist is one form of preventative care, you can also practice prevention, by simply just changing your daily habits…
Know your numbers
If you want to start this prevention journey on the right foot, start with knowing your numbers! Knowing your numbers will help you identify certain health risks, and what steps you need to take to build a strong and healthy heart! The recommended health numbers that you need are…
Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Cholesterol, and your Body Mass Index (BMI)
If you don’t know your numbers, how will you be able to sustain a healthy heart?
If you can commit to at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity (i.e. walking laps, aerobics class, riding a bike), you will lower your risk of heart disease! The heart loves exercise! When you water a seed in the ground, it grows. When you exercise and constantly move, your heart grows…STRONGER! But exercise is not where it all ends. *How are you currently being active? If you’re not, how do you plan on adding more activity to your day?*
Adopt a healthy diet
When I refer to the term “diet,” I’m not speaking on changing for the moment. I want you to change your eating habits for lifelong changes. If you’re not eating properly every day, begin to make a trade, on foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol. Meals that include fresh vegetables and fruits, foods high in fiber, and low in sugar, are the way to go! *Comment below on one food item that you can trade out, and how you plan to do it.*
Shake off the stress and get some rest
Believe it or not stress can really break the body down. If you’re feeling stressed, don’t carry that burden. Ask for help! Speak with a professional, or a nourishing support system, to prevent you from stress eating, being inactive, and having restless nights. On average, we should all be getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. But when we stress, we tend to wrestle in our sleep, worry through the night, and often stress ourselves out until the point of illness. To avoid all of this, don’t be afraid to ask for help and to take a moment to breath! *Comment below and tell me how you’re managing sleep and stress?*
Outside of trying to manage the tips above, if you’re a smoker, I would encourage you to stop! Although it’s not that easy, understand that smoking can put you at a higher risk of suffering from many health issues. Smokers are at the top of the list for reducing their years of expected lifespan. If you want to quit, but have no idea where to begin, speak with a health care provider.
Click here to locate a Novant Health Heart Specialist to help you out.
I truly hope that this information has been helpful to you, and that this sparks a conversation amongst women you come across! I will continue to share resources with you, provided by Novant Health, to create a healthy space for you and your family. As we close out this year, let’s keep this conversation alive, and utilize these resources, and be a change agent for the lives of all women in our communities.
Make sure you’re connected with me on Instagram to catch #WomenHeartWednesdays! On #WomenHeartWednesdays I’ll be challenging you to practice preventative care habits!
Thank you to Novant Health for sponsoring this conversation!