Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Let's Have A Heart to Heart Healthy Talk
Have you had a heart to heart with your heart lately? It's really easy to ignore your heart. After all, it's inside your body and it tends to just do it's job without much fanfare.
But if you don't treat your heart right or your heart has a defect, it'll let you know loud and clear. If you ignore warning signs, it will let you know when it's too late.
Several studies have been released lately about how women ignore the signs of heart disease and heart attack because they tend to make excuses: "I'm too young," "I'm having a panic attack," and "I don't want to go to the ER, find out it's nothing and be embarrassed." True, true, true. How do I know? I've said every one of them recently.
Here are signs and symptoms, as what to do if you think you are having a heart attack and how to communicate with 911, EMTs, ER personnel and doctors.
Episode one got me a stress test. Episode two I ignored (yes, shake your heads). When the third episode happened in my neurologist's office, I was sent straight to the cardiologist who set up a heart catheterization test to look for internal issues. ASAP. It was a fun Maundy Thursday.
Now here's the weird part, there were no blockages, thank goodness, but the doc found my arteries were 40% narrowed, probably genetic (my mom suffered from this). I don't smoke. I don't eat meat all the time. And you know me, no processed food. The doc was thrilled because she normally sees people with blockages requiring stents. ME? I freaked even as I'm grateful this issue was found. My blood pressure is great. I'm only fifteen pounds overweight and have already lost five of that (thanks RWA Conference in NYC for giving me a goal already). That's not bad right? WRONG.
I need to lower my cholesterol and treat my heart even better. I thought I was doing a good job but, in my case, not good enough. The nurses told me you can do everything right but you can't beat genetics. My mother's father died of a massive heart attack. My mother I told you about. There's diabetes on the other side which raises heart risks. I needed to start something new and get even more healthy.
Here are a few of my tips for jump-starting my heart health, thanks to the American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic:
1) Get the butter out of the house: Butter was my fat of choice. Sob. I use it to grease my pans and bake my gluten-free goodies. It was the one thing I treated myself to because I thought if I did everything else right it would balance out. I'm not saying it won't be back but for now I need to see what a difference it makes.
2) Eat more oatmeal: I don't eat as much oatmeal in the Spring but I will this season. It helps with cholesterol fighting.
3) Those once a week trips to Five Guys Burgers and Fries are history: ManO and I always had the small burger (mine wrapped in lettuce some of the time and I only ate half). We declined fries half the time. For now, we are changing our weekend ritual to Zoe's Kitchen where I can get hummus (legumes are great for heart health) and salad with olives. Olive oil is great too.
4) Exercise more: My foot is in a boot for a broken toe but I'm still using my standing desk, proving to be one of the best things I've added to my study. ManO and I also realized we are getting the steps in when we walk but not the heart rate. If you see folks chasing each other down the street, it's just us getting our heart rates up.
There's more and plenty of recipes to come. But I have a few requests for you now. Read and pay attention to the signs of heart attacks in women. Pay attention when your cholesterol goes up. If you can't afford to go to the doctor, find a health fair and get it checked. Take up a heart healthy diet.
Disclaimer: This post is all about my own experience and general information found on the web. Please consult your doctor ASAP if this post makes you think you may have heart issues or want to find out more information.
Do you know any women who have had heart attacks? How is your family's heart history? What can you do right now to improve your heart health? What is your favorite heart healthy dish?