Ah, February, the time of Punxsutawney Phil, the Olympics and all things red and pink. The American Heart Association has cleverly designated February National Heart Month because of the barrage of heart shaped reminders we receive all month long. In the United States, 1 in 31 women die of breast cancer a year, while 1 in 3 dies of heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in women claiming more deaths than all cancers combined.
Are You At Risk?
· Are you over the age of 55?
· Do you have a family history of heart disease?
· Do you have an elevated cholesterol level?
· Do you have high blood pressure and/or a history of pre-eclampsia?
· Are you a smoker?
· Do you have a sedentary lifestyle?
· Are you obese?
· Do you have diabetes and/or and history of gestational diabetes?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. In fact, 90% of American women have one or more risk factors for heart disease.
Warning Signs of Heart Disease and Heart Attacks in Women
Although heart disease affects both men and women, some risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, and some auto-immune diseases make this condition more deadly in women. Symptoms of heart disease can be a little different for women as well. We all have heard of the usual red flags: chest pain and shortness of breath. However, some women may experience symptoms that are a little more vague like jaw pain, nausea, upper back pain and fatigue. These are all symptoms that we might not immediately associate with heart disease and would therefore not seek medical attention.
THE GOOD NEWS
80% of the risks factors are preventable by following a few simple steps:
The Mediterranean Diet can decrease the incidence of heart disease by 30%. Here is what the American Heart Association has to say about it:
“If you adopt the Mediterranean diet, you’ll eat a lot of plant-based, minimally processed foods. You’ll use olive oil instead of butter or margarine, thereby substituting monounsaturated “good” fat for unhealthful saturated and trans fats. Fish is the central meat, and red meat is eaten pretty rarely. Dessert is fresh fruit, and, yes, you’re allowed a glass of wine a day.”
Adding at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week can decrease heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and can elevate mood. Just three, brisk ten-minute walks a day is enough to make a difference.
Smoking cessation not only can reduce cardiac risk, but also the risk of cancer, chronic lung disease and early death.
Talk to Your Doctors
Your physician and the Women’s Health Program at Jupiter Medical Center can help. Nutrition counseling, weight management and wellness programs, and cardiac screening packages are available to all women in the community. Discuss your family, personal and pregnancy history with your provider to determine what early interventions can decrease your cardiac risk.
Now that you know how easy it is to lower your risk of heart disease, go tell your mom, sister, daughter or any other woman you love. Maybe this year instead of giving out candy hearts with messages like “Be Mine” or “U R Special,” give ones out that say “Eat More Fish” or “What’s Your LDL?” and show someone you really care.
Before you read this post, check out Jupiter Medical Center’s wordeo on 5 things you can do for your health in 2014!
How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are they just a distant memory, a plan for next year or have they become a part of your life? How do you become the twenty percent that see their resolutions realized?
SIMPLIFY. Make your goals attainable by decreasing the steps to reach them.
- Place healthy foods at eye level in the refrigerator.
- Plan out snacks for the week.
- Have a trainer plan your exercise.
- Place your workout clothes at your bedside.
It is just as important to have a fit mind as a fit body. Simplify the path to better behavior. Instead of reaching for a cigarette or another glass of wine, have your favorite book, needlepoint, newest exercise gear, guitar, or latest tech device in arm’s reach. Create a new habit with the direction of least resistance, and remember, a goal without a plan is a wish.
TOGETHER. Invest in your friends, family and social networking. Let them know your progress to help steer and encourage you. Surround yourself with those who may have achieved similar goals or engage in the habits you wish to create. Meet for exercise, attend education lectures (Jupiter Medical Center has fabulous ones, go grocery shopping or share music lessons.
APP. There’s an app for that! Use technology to track your progress and simplify your goals. Weight loss, recipe, memory, and music apps abound. List your goals and make them your smart phone’s wallpaper.
REWARD. Reward yourself for goals achieved. Entertain your support network.
- a play at the Maltz
- a trip to Trapper Nelson’s
- the JMC Foundation Annual Ball
- a visit to Loggerhead Marinelife Center
TIME. Recognize that it took time to get here, and it will take patience to fulfill your resolution. Use the steps above to accelerate towards your goal!
Hopefully this new year will find you automatically waking, putting on your running gear, meeting friends for a jog, eating your already prepared breakfast, joining coworkers at lunch for a walk instead of a cigarette, playing a new musical instrument and rewarding yourself with a trip to the beach (don’t forget the sunblock)!
It’s time to (re)START your resolutions. The lunar new year begins January 31st!