Think heart attacks just happen to older men?
It’s heart health month this February and I’ve been talking to A LOT of women in midlife about how to protect the most important organ in their body, their precious hearts. Here are a couple of facts that you may be surprised about:
- Heart disease is the #1 killer women in the US. That is 1 in 3 female deaths. This is not a disease that only happens to men.
- Heart disease affects women of all ages. Risk certainly goes up as you get older but women in midlife are at a significant risk. Lower levels of estrogen during menopause may adversely affect artery walls, making them less flexible, thus setting you up for heart disease risk.
- Heart disease risk can have a genetic component, but lifestyle is everything when it comes to heart health.
- There is a condition called Broken Heart Syndrome. It can feel similar to a heart attack but is really from a rush of stress hormones from an emotional or stressful event (Covid-19 anyone?).
Lifestyle, Midlife and Heart Health
Heres the bad news and the good news: Lifestyle – how you live, handle stress and eat, are responsible for about 80% of heart disease. If you have diabetes, are overweight, eat an unhealthy diet, smoke, are sedentary and drink alcohol, you could be in a high risk category.
The world we live in is not helping much right now. We have all been in a heightened state of stress for a very long time with Covid, and I would argue that mother’s in particular, are feeling the blow more acutely than most. Stress equals heightened cortisol levels, which is turn can create chronic inflammatory conditions in our body.
But let’s look at this as good news. What this translates into is that you have control over these factors and it is in your control to turn them around.
How to Lower Your Heart Disease Risk
You’ve got this! Making changes might seem easier said than done, and daunting at best. It starts with a plan. You would never consider climbing Mount Everest without solid training or getting yourself prepared for high altitudes before setting out on your trek, would you? No, you would take that large goal and break it down into small actionable steps, one small goal at a time.
Let’s get specific. Right now, you could consider:
- taking a break from wine for 30 days. Reevaluate from there.
- replacing your snacks with a fruit or vegetable during the day.
- making a commitment to get out for a walk three times a week (it will be spring soon enough!)
- add in one new heart healthy food a week.What are heart healthy foods? Some examples are dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, dark orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and butternut squash, whole grains such as oats or brown rice, good for you fats from salmon or avocados.
- Learn to cook one new recipe every week that you have been curious about.You can check out some my healthy recipes HERE.
Small Changes Mean Big Impact
Change can be hard. The truth is, every small step counts. Getting support is one easy way to help. Others might include writing out your small goal and putting it on your refrigerator to see everyday. Put a reminder on your phone. And don’t forget to give yourself huge gratitude every time you make a change.
If you need more guidance, let’s talk. I can help set you up with a plan of action to get you back on track and feeling great. This can be a combination of coaching and cooking to set you on a path to feeling great in a body you love and appreciate.