When the month of February comes around, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Mardi Gras? Black History Month? Or maybe it’s Valentine’s Day? Well this year I want you to think about something else. Something that could mean the difference between being here for years to come for your children … or not. Ladies, it’s time that we have a heart to heart talk.
February is American Heart Month. Women all over the world are dying from heart disease. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women? Mothers, sisters, daughters and friends are being taken from us way to soon. But there is something we can do …. something we MUST do.
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure at age of 19. As a pharmacist, I know what I “should” be doing, and I’ll be honest and say that I need to do better. My husband died of a heart attack at the age of 43. If I needed a reality check, this was definitely it.
As moms we often neglect ourselves. Sure, I’m a self-care advocate, but self care is more than bubble baths and pedicures. Self -care is also about taking care of your physical health. Do you know what the risk factors are? When was your last physical? Do you know your numbers? Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke?
Here are the facts:
- Cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 deaths in women each year. That’s approximately one woman a minute!
- Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
- Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
- Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
- Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Source: American Heart Association
Here Are Five Things That I Am Doing Now to Lower My Risk of Heart Disease:
- Taking control of my blood pressure by checking it every morning and then recording it in a log book to bring to my doctor’s appointment.
- I have learned that stressful situations raise my blood pressure, go figure. By taking time out to meditate, practicing yoga, and using breathing techniques (WOOSAH), my stress levels have decreased.
- Regular exercise can strengthen your heart, help maintain a healthy weight, lower cholesterol and control blood pressure. I am training for the Crescent City Classic!
- Limit sodium intake. My biggest struggle is food. I dine out a lot. The only way to control the amount of added sodium is to prepare meals at home. Just because it’s a salad or “healthier” option, that doesn’t mean it’s low in sodium. My goal is to prepare more meals at home. I’ll keep you posted on this one.
- Limit alcohol intake. I know that I’m not the only mom who loves a glass of wine or two. Women should not have more than one drink a day, while men can have two.
In addition to those things, the most important thing you can do is take any symptoms you have seriously. Too often women ignore the signs and lose their lives when if they had just followed their instincts, they could have survived. Do you know what a SCAD heart attack is? It mostly effects younger women. Google it. Start doing your research. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of heart disease- and talk to your children to break the cycle of heart disease.
Do it because you’re life depends on it.