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Sheila Khianey, MD
Women Getting To the Heart Of the Matter
Prince William Cardiology Associates

Women Getting To the Heart Of the Matter

Women  Getting To the Heart Of the Matter

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. More women die of heart disease than men. It is real, and it affects scores of women in the prime of their lives.

The good news is it is almost entirely preventable. And if you have heart disease, you can do things to help reverse it by taking important steps to stay healthy.

This involves knowing how to keep your heart healthy, understanding your risk for heart disease and learning about your body and the signs of a heart disease and a heart attack.

How To Keep Your Heart Healthy

Exercise All over the world the people that live long, healthy lives simply have daily vigorous activity- and enjoy doing this. Exercise reduces your stress. It improves your sleep, focus, your mood and metabolism.

A good exercise routine is 30 minutes a day. Think of it as revving the engine of your body. You know you are getting a good work out when you get your heart rate up, break a sweat, and feel a bit breathless (but not too out breath). Power walking is great exercise!

By doing this, you will be healthier, at any body size. You will lose weight, particularly the fat at your waistline, which greatly lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Eat healthy Food is medicine. It is how you fuel your body. You need good nutrition to be healthy, feel good and fight disease.

Eat seven servings of primarily vegetables, and some fruit. If you do that, your brain, heart, and body will have all the nutrients it needs. By doing this, you will realize you feel satisfied because your body already has the good nutrition it needs. Reduce sugar and the simple carbohydrates in your diet, especially sugary sodas. This will greatly reduce the bad fats in your blood that lead to heart disease.

Eat healthy fats rich in omega3. They will lubricate the arteries of your heart, dilate them, protect them, keeping them healthy and less likely to get inflamed and develop disease.

Manage your stress Do you believe in a mind body connection? There is strong scientific evidence that shows when you feel good, your body and blood vessels also feel good and are healthier. For instance, laughter has been linked to the healthy function of blood vessels. Fifteen minutes of laughter has been showed to be about equal to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. The reverse is also true that too much stress can lead to heart disease and other medical problems.

Get a good night’s sleep Good sleep is associated with well-being and many health benefits as well. This includes better blood pressure and cholesterol levels. With good sleep your metabolism is higher, you feel less hungry and the reverse is true if you are sleep deprived. Put a premium on a good nights sleep.

Quit smoking This cannot be emphasized enough. Smoking damages your blood vessels from head to toe. By quitting, you can restore the health of your blood vessels and prevent life threatening medical problems like stroke, heart attack, cancer and kidney failure, just to name a few.

Know Your Risk For Heart Disease

Heart disease is brought on by many factors including smoking, being overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history of heart disease in a first degree relative before age 60.

It is paramount that you be the expert of your health and understands your individual risk for heart disease. Partner with your doctor. Your doctor can be very helpful in educating you on your health and risks. There is special blood work and testing that can be helpful and must be tailored to you as an individual.

Signs Of a Heart Attack

A major reason why women don’t get the proper treatment for their heart problems and heart attacks is that many women don’t know that they are having a heart attack. Know your body. Pay attention to how you feel when you are well so that you can recognize and be proactive when you experience these red flags. The first step to surviving a heart attack is being proactive and recognizing your symptoms.

Most people believe a heart attack feels like intense chest discomfort like “an elephant is sitting” on your chest. This is certainly a classic sign of a heart attack and if it happens with any physical activity, that is your warning sign of a heart attack. But about 45 percent of women experiencing a heart attack do not have chest pain. Women often get discomfort in other parts of the body such as pain in the jaw, tooth, neck, shoulder, arm, and back. Other warning signs include shortness of breath, an overwhelming sense of fatigue, overwhelming nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and cold sweats. The reason for this is the sensory nerve fibers that carry pain signals from the heart cross other nerves when they meet in the spinal cord. This causes symptoms of discomfort in other parts of the body called “referred pain.”

A good rule of thumb is if you are experiencing the discomfort when you are physically active and it lasts longer than 5 minutes, always think it can be your heart and seek immediate medical attention.

Take Home Points

Most heart disease is preventable and most is reversible. By living healthier, you can achieve a healthier you. Invest in yourself. Empower yourself with this knowledge and take charge of your health.

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