As moms we spend so much time focused on caring for others. Our kids, our partners, our co-workers. I bet if you sat down and made a list of everyone who asks you for something in one day, you would run out of ink! When is it time to take care of ourselves and what do we prioritize once we do?
Let’s talk BIG priority here. Did you know that only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is her number 1 killer? According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for black and white women in the United States. So let’s talk about heart disease in women and its underlying causes. The term has always seemed a little vague to me, so I asked Dr. Jeremy Allen of American Family Care to share some insight.
What exactly IS heart disease?
Heart disease is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. Heart disease is one of several cardiovascular diseases, which are diseases of the heart and blood vessel system.
What are the symptoms of heart disease for women?
Women are more likely to describe chest pain that is sharp, burning and more frequently have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back. Some women may have no symptoms.
Symptoms can show up while resting, begin during physical activity, or be triggered by mental stress.
What are the causes and how can we prevent heart disease?
- Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes.
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake to levels recommended by the American Heart Association
- Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.
- Make healthy food choices.
- Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.
Let’s focus on that last one: our stress levels. What’s a mom to do? It all has to get done, right? Whether we are physical completing our to-do list, or mentally make it, the emotional toll doesn’t take long to set in. Where do we carve out our time to restore, refresh and center ourselves? As Dr. Allen puts it, “We must promote our overall wellness. The better we feel the easier it is to make healthy choices and not cope with stress by overeating, other bad habits or escaping into technology”.
- Mindfulness reminder. Set a timer, download an app. Whatever it takes, each hour, get up a stretch, breathe, close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground. Over time this powerful and simple practice will bring more mental space, calm and clarity to your day.
- Breathe more! Try this simple long deep breathing exercise. Practice this in traffic, when falling asleep, and before you get out of bed. The more you practice, the more automatic it will become when intense situations are developing.
- Try yoga. This short sequence to start or end your day can set the tone for brighter mornings and better sleep.