National Women's Health Week Wrap Up
Last week we celebrated National Women’s Health week by joining forces locally and nationally to encourage women to take steps to improve their health.
Since heart disease is still the #1 killer of women, we raise awareness of women’s heart health issues during this week. Led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health every May and kicking off on Mother’s Day, this important observance gives us another great reason to highlight current information about how to prevent heart and vascular disease.
Dr. Amy L. Woodruff and I see women of all ages in our cardiology practice for a wide range of heart problems. No matter what age, women seem to share one common question, “What should I be doing at my age to help my heart health?”
A young woman who knows she has a congenital heart problem may want to plan ahead for pregnancy; another woman in her middle years might know she needs blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids and diabetes screenings.
To these and all women, we have plenty of heart advice to offer. But, if we can give just a few tips to women in each decade of their lives, these top the list.
In Your 20s:
Commit to Healthy Habits
Women who smoke probably started in their teens. Stop today. Becoming a non-smoker in young adulthood, before a great deal of damage is done, is the most important healthy habit in your 20s. Rounding out the top three good habits are regular exercise and smart eating.
In Your 30s:
Team with your Doctor to Assess your Risks
High blood pressure and high cholesterol often show up during a woman's 30s. Many young adult women rely on their OB/Gyn as their primary physician—which is understandable, but now it's also time to choose an internist with whom you have a good rapport. Together you can pinpoint any lifestyle changes you need to make.
In Your 40s:
Don't let your Busy Life Sidetrack Good Habits
By this decade, most women have completed their childbearing and have every minute filled with career and family obligations. Exercise and healthy eating often fall victim to a busy schedule. You must keep your health a high priority. We suggest you block time ahead of time every week in your calendar for physical activity. Schedule it in your day and don't miss this appointment. Plan ahead for business meetings or hectic times that often lead to grabbing unhealthy snacks and making poor food choices. At the same time, don't be reluctant to begin taking any cholesterol or blood pressure medication that your doctor prescribes. Trust your doctor.
In Your 50s:
Know Your Numbers
One big eye-opener for women in their 50s is the multiple medications their doctor may prescribe. “This is the time when women need to truly 'take ownership' of their own cholesterol, blood pressure, lipids and blood-sugar levels," advises Dr. Woodruff. It's also not too late to put primary prevention measures into practice, so don't hesitate to start exercising and eating right. I believe this is the most important time to cut some calories and exercise every day to prevent middle age weight gain.
In Your 60s (And Beyond):
Stay on Top of any Developing Heart Issues
Cardiovascular disease typically takes decades to hit full force, and after a woman passes 60, symptoms such as angina or shortness of breath may show up. The 60s are the most likely decade to see the first clear manifestation of heart disease, so pain or any other sign needs to be taken seriously. Don't wait to call your doctor if you notice something new or that does feel not quite. You know your body. Do not ignore what it is telling you.
Tip for Any Time and All Times:
Build a relationship with your doctor; communicate with your doctor and work together to maintain good health. If you're active now, keep up the good work. If you're not active, explore your exercise options—and start today.
Until next time!
Stephanie Coulter, MD
A special Thank you to Dr. Amy Woodruff for her help with the 2017 National Women's Health Week newsletter.
For additional ways all women can take care of their hearts, visit the Straight Talk archives on the Texas Heart Institute website.
Learn more about these topics in the Heart Information Center:
♥ Heart Disease Risk Factors
♥ Exercise at Heart
♥ Nutrition at Heart
Do you have a topic that you would like to learn more about from Dr. Stephanie? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be the next Straight Talk topic!
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