Eat Your Heart Out – Mary’s Words of Wellness

Mary Atkinson, RD, Director of Wellness,

Mary Atkinson, RD, Director of Wellness,

With heart-felt honesty, I do not want you to “eat your heart out!”  In fact, I would tell you in a heartbeat, that it pains me to think that so many of us believe that a way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.  I would much rather we all eat a healthy diet so that we can go on living a heart-warming existance and doing whatever it is we most enjoy to our heart’s content.   What’s with all the “heart” phrases, you might be asking by now.  Do you realize just how many phrases we use fairly routinely that contain the word “heart”?  And conversely, do you realize just how little attention most women pay to their physical heart?

In today’s blog post, Julie Ward RN., our Chest Pain and A-Fib Coordinator, offers her insights and advice regarding our heart health.

Finally, please join us and  TMC employees at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk on April 20th at Reid Park.

This week, ‘listen to your heart’ and be well!

~ Mary

Julie Ward, RN. Chest Pain Manager

Julie Ward, RN. Chest Pain Manager

Women focus a lot on their breast health due to the great work done by the Susan Komen Foundation. When I ask a group of women if they know what the chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime is, almost unanimously they will answer 1 in 8 women.  They have heard it over and over and have that number registered in their memory bank.  However, when I ask the same group of women what their chance of being diagnosed with heart disease in their life is they sit quietly.  I have never had a group give the correct response which is 1 in 3 women.  Women view heart disease as something that happens to men, not them.   How often do you see a woman clutch her chest and fall to the ground on a TV program or commercial?  Very rarely.   Work and family are often prioritized over a woman’s own needs.  Why don’t we place ourselves in the number one slot?  Women are traditionally in the role of caregiver, and therefore her needs are minimized.  If a woman has a heart attack she is less likely to seek help—she doesn’t want to be a bother.

Women may have different signs and symptoms of a heart attack and not the chest pain we often see on TV.  Signs and symptoms may include:  shortness of breath, nausea, arm pain, jaw pain, back pain, heartburn.

The message? Know your body and get help when something is not right.

TIPS:

  • Balance your life Eat a proper diet, get regular exercise, relieve stress, and meet your spiritual needs
  • Ask questions when you are at a doctor’s appointment (make an appointment if you haven’t seen a physician in awhile!-What is my blood pressure? (Normal is less than 120/80)
    -What is my total cholesterol? (Normal is less than 200)
    -What is my good cholesterol? (Normal is >65)
    -What is my bad cholesterol? (Normal is <100)
    -What is my blood sugar? (Normal is less than <100)
  • Do not avoid the doctor because you are afraid of the answers to these questions.  Information will help you make a plan.  If something is too high you have the opportunity to make it better before it is too late.
  •  Go to American Heart Association’s website at mylifecheck.org and take the Life’s Simple 7 quiz.
  • Be the first in your family, at work, or in your group of friends to initiate a conversation about women and heart disease. Open dialogue equals increased awareness.
  • Age healthily. I read an article on ABC News titled “Secret to Active 80s? Fitness-Heavy 40’s”.  The general gist? It’s is never too late to start a fitness program.
  • Children learn from example. We owe it to our kids, grand kids, nieces, nephews, and neighbor kids to show them what healthy living means.

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