Women’s Heart Health

February is Heart Health Month, so, with that being said, pour yourself a heart healthy glass of wine and snuggle in for a read.

I am writing this blog because, well, I like to consider myself an advocate for women’s health, and heart disease is the #1 killer of American/Canadian women. In fact, heart disease kills more Women than Breast Cancer, yet often goes ignored (?)

As a women’s health advocate, I want to take this moment, this blog, to shine some light on the hearts of women. If you look at the majority of research, and the history of  research done, it’s all men! In the medical field you constantly hear about men having heart attacks but where are the ladies at? (not that I want my ladies having heart attacks or anything…) BUT, it’s not often discussed, it’s not studied and it’s definitely NOT the same as men.

SO, lets dive into the specifics of what we do know about female heart health …

  • High Triglyceride levels seem to increase heart disease risk in women, but not in men.
  •  HDL levels lower than 60 is a risk factor for heart attacks in women, but not in men. (HDL has been shown in studies to naturally decrease following menopause).
  • LDL levels increase in postmenopausal women, these increased levels have been shown to be a major risk factor.
  • HDL and LDL levels are more significant risk factors for woman than cholesterol levels.
  • Women who smoke cigarettes are more likely to have a heart attack 19 years earlier than non-smoking women.

 

Women don’t exhibit “typical” heart attack symptoms. In fact, 43% of women didn’t have chest pain during their heart attack!

→ Classic symptoms: pain or discomfort in the chest, pain in the shoulder, arm or jaw, shortness of breath, nausea, and the feeling of being light-headed. We all know this right?? However …

Most common symptoms reported from female heart attack survivors:

  •  Unexplained fatigue that worsens with time
  •  Sleep disturbances
  •  Indigestion
  •  Anxiety
  •  Gut-feeling or instinct that something was wrong

 


What YOU can DO …

♥ Vegan diet – all vegan jokes aside, the vegan diet is recommended by leading and respected heart disease specialists and medical doctors for optimal heart health.

♥ This is a good one … drum roll pleaseeeeee… WINE WINE WINE . Well, more so singular, as in a one glass of wine. Red wine contains an antioxidant called “resveratrol” that has been shown in studies to promote longevity. However, don’t over do it on the wine, maybe skip the middle man and indulge in some fresh grapes instead (but I’m not judging). DSC_0195(1)

♥ Keep a zip-lock bag of granulated aspirin in your purse to take if you think you’re having a heart attack. Aspirin thins the blood, prevents blood clots and can help prevent a heart attack and/or lessen the effects if you think you are having one.

♥ You have a 1/3 GREATER chance of having a heart attack on a Monday morning (ugh, Mondays, am I right?) … Spend 5 minutes Monday morning meditating, and don’t schedule stressful meetings on Monday mornings!

♥ Practice physically opening the heart center with back bending asanas such as bridge, wheel, cobra or camel.

Move everyday. Get your heart rate up and bumping at least once a day, find a movement that works for you and stick to it.

Rejuvenate your relationships and rekindle the connections you have with others. Find a community to connect with whether it be a scrap-booking club or a group of yogi’s.

Practice giving and receiving love. (Allowing yourself to be open to receiving is actually the hard part).

 


From a YOGI perspective …

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When we’re talking about anything to do with heart disease, were dealing with the fourth chakra, the heart center; the Anahata charka.

“The heart chakra is dedicated to overcoming separation and division.”

If the heart center is blocked, you have a feeling of alienation. That feeling of alienation and lack of connection is said to manifest into physiological disturbances in the heart center.

“Studies have shown that in patients with recent heart attacks, men who believe that their spouses love them suffer fewer complications and have better outcomes. People who perceive the world as hostile have a higher risk of premature heart attacks than those who feel the world is a nurturing place”.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

 


 

References:

Chopra, Deepak, Simon, David M.D. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga.

Heart Dz in Women – Research Article