Tag Archives: heart health

Heart Disease and Women

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Get the facts and reduce your risk!  happyfitmama.com

As some of you may know, I work as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation. When I went into this profession, I had no real reason. My family does not have a strong history of heart disease. I just liked exercise, talking about exercise and counseling others on how to live a healthier life. Over the years, my reasons have changed. One of the big reasons are the people who become my patients that make me enjoy my job.

When someone has a heart event, often times they feel scared, alone and not sure of what the future holds for them. Cardiac Rehabilitation is a medically supervised program to help patients recover quickly and improve their overall physical, mental, and social functioning after an event. Essentially, it’s an exercise, education and support program to help patients learn how to live a healthier life. Research shows that patients who participate in Cardiac Rehab live longer and have a better quality of life than those that don’t.

I’ve seen a wide range of people who have been affected by heart disease whether it’s from Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG), Myocardial Infarction (MI), PCI/Stents, Stable Angina, Cardiomyopathy, or Valve Replacement/Repair. When I first entered the field 14+ years ago, most of my patients were at least 70 and older. While we still see older patients, we have also begun to see people in their 30s and 40s. The youngest patient I ever had was in her late 20s.  It was scary that she was actually younger than me!  And it’s not just here and there that we see younger patients. We recently had 8 patients out of 16 total who were 50 or younger. Most of them were otherwise healthy, exercised daily, ate “right” and were not overweight. The common link? All of them had a very strong family history of heart disease.

dayinthelife - happyfitmama.com

Unfortunately, you can not change your genetics. But that doesn’t mean you should start chain smoking, stop exercising and eat nothing but donuts and beer, either. Imagine if those patients of mine did not exercise, ate horribly day after day and were severely overweight? They most likely would not have survived their heart event.

So what risk factors can you control:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Manage your blood sugar
  • Get your blood pressure under control
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Know your family history
  • Stay active
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Eat healthy

Heart disease is the number one killer of women.

Stop for a second and reread the sentence above.  Did you get that? Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Most women fear breast cancer.  I know I do since my mom had breast cancer. Women routinely get their mammograms and do self checks each month.  But what about your heart?  Most women, especially younger women, think heart disease is something you don’t have to think about till you are at least 70.That’s not the case at all.

  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.

Source: Go Red for Women

Go Red for Women Red Dress - happyfitmama.com

Media has conditioned us to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.

Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon-running workout fiend, your risk for heart disease isn’t completely eliminated. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. Also, keep an eye on your blood pressure. Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure have no symptoms.

#MNBChallenge | HappyFitMama.com

If you are already active, great!  Keep it up! Physical activity is something that is linked to all the controllable risk factors of heart disease(diabetes, overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress, etc.).  Make time for exercise by scheduling it in like you would a doctor’s appointment. You are worth the time!

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer with all of this information. Heart disease is scary and it’s real. It can happen to anyone. But with the proper nutrition, exercise, knowledge, and awareness throughout your life, you can find the key on how to love your heart and have it love you right back.
For more information about heart disease, please check out the following links:

Go Red For Women Campaign

American Heart Association

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women?

How are you reducing your risk factors for heart disease?

Blog Your Heart Out

Hi friends!

As some of you may know, I work as a Clinical Exercise Specialist in Cardiac Rehabilitation. When I went into this profession, I had no real reason. My family does not have a strong history of heart disease. I just liked exercise, talking about exercise and counseling others on how to live a healthier life. Over the years, my reasons have changed. One of the big reasons are the people who become my patients that make me enjoy my job.

Today I’m Blogging My Heart Out to raise awareness for this disease that has touched all of us at some point.

When someone has a heart event, often times they feel scared, alone and not sure of what the future holds for them. Cardiac Rehabilitation is medically supervised program to help patients recover quickly and improve their overall physical, mental, and social functioning after an event. Essentially, it’s an exercise, education and support program to help patients learn how to live a healthier life. Research shows that patients who participate in Cardiac Rehab live longer and have a better quality of life than those that don’t.

I’ve seen a wide range of people who have been affected by heart disease whether it’s from Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG), Myocardial Infarction (MI), Stable Angina, Cardiomyopathy, or Valve Replacement/Repair. When I first entered the field 10+ years ago, most of my patients were at least 70 and older. While we still see older patients, we have also begun to see people in their 30s and 40s. One thing that has not changed over the years, is the amount of women who attend Cardiac Rehab after their event.

Heart disease is the number killer of women.

Yet men are still the predominate participant in rehab. Why is that? There are numerous reasons why this might be. Physicians not referring, insurance coverage (or lack of), and being afraid to exercise. Statistics show that under 20% of those eligible ever go to rehab, and women and minorities go less often than white men. We need to promote cardiac rehab for everyone.

heart - happyfitmama.comSo what can you do to help your friends, family and community know that such a resource exists for people with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease? Spread the word about the facts!

  • Many physicians are unaware of the known benefits of cardiac rehab. Primary care physicians too often believe their active or older patients won’t benefit.
  • Rehab patients not only live longer, but they have a better quality of life.
  • Rehab also offers social and psychological benefits no matter what your age.
  • Supervised rehab is safe, even for the very old.

Being diagnosed with cardiac disease is scary but the good news is you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources to help modify risk factors to live a healthier life.

For more information about heart disease, please check out the following links:

Go Red For Women Campaign

American Heart Association

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Go Red for Women + The Countdown Workout

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

Today isn’t any old Friday. It’s Go Red for Women Day. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and more deadly than any form of cancer. In an effort to raise awareness, the American Heart Association started the Go Red campaign a few years ago.

Go Red for Women Red Dress - happyfitmama.com

Heart disease is near and dear to my heart (pun intended) since I work with cardiac patients daily. I don’t talk about my job that much on here due to patient confidentiality laws but it’s something that I feel strongly about. Don’t think heart disease is something that only happens as you get older. Over the years, the population that I see in rehab has changed dramatically. No longer is it only the 80 year old Grandpa or Grandma. I’ve seen patients in their 20s and 30s who are of normal weight, active and eat well. Know your risk factors and don’t deny your symptoms.

And for women, your symptoms may not be the typical movie chest clutching “I’m having a heart attack” signs. They can be:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Pain in arm, neck, jaw or back
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness
  • Cold, clammy sweating
  • Fatigue with doing even little activity

I’m wearing red today for all women but also for a special blogger friend, Krysten. She’s having more surgery for her robot heart today…such a strong, inspiring woman. Best of luck to her and a speedy recovery!

The Countdown

These days I’m sticking with my plan of strength, yoga and cross training for optimizing my health and staying injury free. I do not want to be sidelined again even if it is 2 weeks! I’ve been in my workout “lab” (i.e. basement) cooking up some great workouts. Here’s one I did recently that left me sweating and feeling strong!

The Countdown Workout - happyfitmama.comThis workout is less than 15 minutes. Repeat countdown 2-3x times if you want more of a workout (or if your legs can handle it!).

Have a great weekend everyone! Apparently, I’m doing the Mid Winter Classic 10 Miler on Sunday. How did that sneak up on me???

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