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Women and Heart Disease — Knowing The Facts Could Save Your Life — by Catherine Morgan
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You should know that…Women are at a very high risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Women are also less likely to survive a heart attack than a man.
The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take some time to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health. Even though you can’t do much about your family history or your age, you can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors. Here is a list of what doctors recommend:
Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.
Control your blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.
Control your cholesterol level. If you don’t know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.
Exercise regularly. Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Eat a low-fat diet. Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.
Be aware of chest pain. Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heat attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.
As a nurse as well as someone who suffers from blood pressure problems myself, I would add that being “in-tune” with your own body and how it is feeling is extremely important. You are the best judge of what is “normal” for your body. When in doubt, get it checked out. Don’t risk your life because you are too busy to go to the doctor. And, don’t waste your time with a doctor who doesn’t respect your needs and concerns. If something isn’t feeling right, don’t ignore it. You are the best ‘patient advicate’ you will ever have, so don’t let any medical professional intimidate you into questioning yourself.
The three things to remeber are: Know yourself. Know the facts. Know when to get help.
ONE THING WE ALL NEED TO DO WHEN WE GET OUR YEARLY MAMMOGRAMAM – by Catherine Morgan
We all already know we need to get our yearly mammograms. None of us “want” to get it, but we get it anyway because we all know how important early detection is in breast cancer. And, for you women not going that should be: Bad girl! You go and get your mammogram, if the rest of us have to do it, so should you.
I’m NOT going to get into all the reasons we (women of course) need to get a mammogram, that horse has been beaten to death a long time ago. I want to talk about something that we need to do when we get our mammogram, something that the doctors and technicians don’t tell us to do. I’m warning you now, this is going to be hard for most of you.
Let me start off by telling you that I had my mammogram today. It was what they call a “diagnostic” mammogram, as opposed to the normal yearly “routine” mammogram. You get a “diagnostic” mammogram when they have found something that doesn’t appear “normal”, also when you are diagnosed with breast cancer, or following-up after a surgery or biopsy for breast cancer. I know “cancer” is a scary word. But, we need to get over it. We all know people who have had, or in my case, who have died from cancer….It’s not a four letter word that we can’t talk about. We actually do need to talk about it. So, to get back to my story; which is also NOT about cancer.
I was sitting in the waiting room…..Did you ever get in an elevator with four or five other people and feel uncomfortable by the total silence? Well that is kind of what it is like in most mammogram waiting rooms, only you are there for much longer than the standard elevator trip. This was my forth visit to this particular waiting room, in a year. Each time between two and eight other women are sitting there in various stages of the process of getting a mammogram. Some fully dressed with forms to give to the technician, some waiting in their little hospital gowns for the technician to give them their mammogram, and some waiting for the doctor to say it is o.k. to leave or that they need more films. It’s an eclectic group to say the least, and for some reason we all sit in silence. Why is that? We may not have anything in common besides getting a mammogram that particular day, but we are all women….Why don’t we talk to each-other?
The last time I was in this waiting room, I was feeling really stressed and scared. I would have loved it if even just one of the women would have talked to me. Not about the mammogram really, just about anything at all, just to pass the time. This time when I went in, I had no intention of breaking the “code of silence”. But, I had a cough, and I wanted the people in this somewhat small area, to know that I wasn’t sick that it was just my asthma acting up. You know how it is now-a-days, we don’t want to be too close to anyone who might be “contagious”, in this case especially if you might be in the room where someone could be getting treatment for cancer already and their immune system may be compromised. So, I did it. I spoke. I told the four or five women in the waiting room the reason I was coughing. Essentially, breaking the ice.
A few moments later I noticed the women across from me had a very pretty pair of shoes on. So, I just came right out and told her that I thought so. Then the women with nice shoes and I began to talk, and before you knew it all of the people in the waiting room were making “small-talk” with one and other. For the next hour or so people were coming and going, and all were being engaged in some sort of communication with each-other. I even found out the proper way to cook Mahi Mahi, and I had been wanting to know that for some time (really). Anyway, we talked, we cried (no, not really), we had our boobs squished (yup), and passed the time in a more interesting and less uncomfortable way than usual.
That brings me to THE ONE THING WE NEED TO START DOING WHEN WE GO TO GET OUR YEARLY MAMMOGRAM. Start talking to each-other, get to know the woman sitting next to you in the waiting room, even if it is just for a few minutes. It will make the time pass more quickly, and maybe reduce yours’ or anothers’ stress about being their in the first place.
So, just try it. Let me know how it works out by posting a comment. Spread the word that it is now o.k. to talk in the waiting room. If you are really daring….Try talking to someone in the elevator too!
LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF MYSELF – a poem
picture by © cloud9999
Although I fight it, it is never far from me, because it is me.
Living with chronic illnesses that ravage my body, and prevent me from being the person I have always wanted to be.
My former self sits in the shadow of these illnesses, weeping with the sad reality that there is no escape from them.
Suffering from debilitating diseases, that are virtually invisible to the outside world, but still hoping someone will see me….here in my own shadow.
But even if someone did open their eyes and see me, it would still be impossible for them to grab onto the hand of my shadow.
So I must learn to live here, living in the shadow of myself, and try to find peace.
also see: living with chronic fatigue syndrome