Here’s a question for you, #GYNEGirls: which disease Is the leading cause of death in women- A. breast cancer or B. heart disease?
Whether you believe it or not, the answer is B. HEART DISEASE. I know it’s a shocker because we hear more about breast cancer in the media. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in every 2 women will die from cardiovascular disease aka heart disease. So what puts you at risk? Here are 4 health conditions that can leave you heartbroken. Pay close attention! I’m trying to save lives here…
High Blood Pressure
It’s nice to be “high on life”, but make sure your blood pressure is not high too. Things that can cause high blood pressure are smoking, eating salty foods, excessive alcohol use, stress, and obesity. When your blood pressure is elevated you are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes. The goal for women under the age of 60 is to have a blood pressure less than 140/90. If you are older than 60 years old, your goal blood pressure should be less than 150/90.
Cholesterol is the build-up of fat in your blood that can cause heart disease. Your cholesterol should be checked at least every 5 years. The cholesterol number that is most important for you to know is your LDL (also known as your “bad” cholesterol). Your LDL number is optimal when it’s below 100. How can you get to this goal? DIET AND EXERCISE….You can do it! If you need more help with lowering your cholesterol, your doctor can prescribe you a cholesterol lowering medication.
If you have Diabetes, your risk of heart disease is 3 to 7 times higher than women without Diabetes. That’s why it’s important for you to closely follow-up with your doctor. You have to check your blood sugars at least 4x a day. If you are on medications- oral or insulin, PLEASE take them. AND watch that diet! Remeber Diabetes is a silent killer. Currently, it is recommended that patients with diabetes be on a cholesterol medication to help prevent heart disease.
Well, #GYNEGirls, if you have not had a menstrual period in the past year, you may be experiencing menopause. Common menopausal symptoms are hot flashes, irritability, and sleep disturbances. The average age for menopause is 51, but for some women menopause can come prematurely like in their 30s or 40s. Here’s why this is important for your heart. Before menopause, your ovaries produce hormones such as estrogen that can protect your heart from heart disease. After menopause, these hormones are at very low levels and cannot protect your ticker anymore. Your doctor may prescribe you hormone replacement therapy to improve your risk.
Even if you have any of these risk factors, you can always make a change for the better. Don’t feel as if you have to make these health changes alone. Change can be a team effort! Contact your medical provider to help you on your journey to better health.
If you want to make some life changes right now, here are a few tips you can start.
Exercise or Do Physical Activity with the goal of at least 150 minutes per week
Limit yourself to drinking a moderate amount of alcohol
Have a healthy, well-balanced diet: Dieticians can be a great resource to help with this!
And remember, #GYNEGirls, if you want to make lasting lifelong changes, taking baby steps is key to reaching your goal. Oprah was NOT built in a day. You can do this, ladies! Here’s to heart healthy living! No more broken heart for you!