Go Red for Women NH
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Go Red for Women NH luncheon at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH. Go Red for Women is the social movement created by the American Heart Association to bring awareness about heart disease, the number one killer of women. The luncheon was an inspirational and motivational venue to bring people together to dispel the myths and help fight the disease. The theme of this year’s luncheon was: “Life is Why,” everyone has a reason to live a healthier, stronger life.
There were so many amazing stories, but one that really stood out to me was about Mary, a 50-something woman. She told us the story of the day she had a severe heart attack. Her day was just like one most of us recognize. She had places to go, things to do and people to see. She described how she woke up with cramping in her shoulders, how she dismissed it and went about her busy day. By the end of the day she was so miserable, she went online to goredforwomen.org to research the symptoms of a heart attack. Throughout the entire episode she was in denial that she was having a cardiac event, a very common reaction. The kicker to the story….Mary’s a nurse.
Many women are not aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women, more than all forms of cancer combined. It’s so important for women to know the factors that increase their risk for heart disease. As the daughter of an adoptee I’ve had to deal with a few unplanned medical issues, so I’ve become more vigilant with my health.
Here’s what I’ve learned about heart disease:
Family History: The risk of heart disease and its risk factors are strongly linked to family history. It’s important to know as much of your family’s medical history as possible.
Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke 2 to 4 times and can take as much as 14 years off of your life. If you’re a smoker, there are a number of smoking cessation products and programs available to help you quit and the good news, your risk of heart disease is cut in half one year later.
High blood pressure: When left untreated high blood pressure damages and scars your arteries, which can have deadly consequences. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet low in salt, saturated fats, cholesterol and alcohol will help you manage, possibly even prevent high blood pressure.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease. If you have diabetes or if it runs in your family it’s important to work with your doctor to create a regime to manage it.
Weight/physical activity: Carrying too much weight, especially around the waist area can increase your risk of heart disease. It’s important to include some form of physical activity in your daily routine, it can add 2 hours to your life, for every hour of regular exercise.
Cholesterol: While your body needs cholesterol to function and stay healthy, high cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease or stroke. Start by getting your cholesterol checked. Know your health numbers, The American Heart Association recommends everyone over the age of 20 get their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctors to design the proper treatment.
As a young woman I didn’t give too much thought to the fact that my mother is adopted, as I’ve gotten older and had children of my own I’m increasingly aware that I know very little about my her biological family’s medical history. I’ve urged my mother to reach out to her family, to get as much information as possible, if not for herself, for her children and grandchildren. In the meantime, I took the Go Red Heart Checkup and I am making sure my lifestyle is healthier because my children are my reason “why.”
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