CoSozo Living

Heart Health
  • Stacy Sawyer is the Senior Communications and Marketing Director for the American Heart Association...

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Sun, June 1, 2014
Girl Talk: How’s Your Heart?
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting together with two of my favorite gal pals for lunch. This is something at one time we did every month, but now it’s dwindled down to maybe a few times a year. Like many of you, our lives are so busy with kids, work, family, volunteer work, and on and on that we put our get-togethers on the back burner. We still haven’t even held the BBQ that was planned for last summer.

This lunch was like all the others filled with laughter, yummy food, and a bit of sarcasm. While catching each other up on all of our goings-on we realized our conversation wasn’t so much about how great our kids are doing, how we need to get them together again, we didn’t even give a hard time to the one of us who manages to coordinate her four kids’ outfits every day. This time the first topic of conversation was our health.

Now working for the largest non-profit organization fighting cardiovascular disease you might think that health is always at the forefront of my conversations. But it’s not. After all I, like most people, don’t exactly enjoy talking about my ailments. Yet, after hearing about what was going on with my friends’ health, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and I shared that I had just gone through a heart cath procedure. They both looked at me like I had six heads. I’m assuming that was because I’m fairly young, in decent enough health and I’m female. Most women don’t expect their girlfriend to have heart disease. Yet, it’s happening to 1 out of every 3 women.

In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease, while 1 in 31 women die of breast cancer. It’s your heart that you have to take care of.

Because so many of us don’t talk about our health, I want to encourage you to have that heart-health conversation with your girlfriends. It’s vital. It will save somebody’s life. And to help you do so, I’m going to give you some tips.

First, join Go Red for Women. It’s the American Heart Association’s movement dedicated to educating women on their risk of heart disease.  Just over 10 years ago, the association recognized the need to educate women on their risk of developing heart disease and how women can prevent it. Since then more than 627,000 lives have been saved. Join today at www.GoRedForWomen.org.

Prevention is the key to saving lives. If we, as women, made the right choices for our hearts including diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking, 80% of cardiac events in women could be prevented. Prevention is where we can save lives.

Tell your girlfriends, sisters and every woman you know the risk factors for heart disease and let them know the importance of making heart-healthy choices to reduce those risks. Risk factors that each of us can impact include:
  • High blood pressure. Over half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. This condition can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so talk to your healthcare professional about your risk. To prevent or manage high blood pressure, eat a healthy diet low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Smoking. Smoking cigarettes is the most preventable major risk factor of heart disease, and it increases your risk two to four times that of nonsmokers. Thousands of nonsmokers, including infants and children, are harmed by exposure to cigarette smoke. It’s never too late to quit!
  • High cholesterol. 44 percent of American adults have cholesterol levels that are too high. The higher your total blood cholesterol, the greater your risk of coronary heart disease. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Take steps to lower your cholesterol levels by losing unnecessary weight and limiting the saturated fats, trans-fats, and cholesterol you eat.
  • Physical inactivity. Lack of physical activity increases your risk of coronary heart disease. Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
  • Being Obese or Overweight. More than 149 million American adults are overweight, and 75 million are obese. If you have excess body fat – especially at the waist – you’re more likely to develop heart disease and stroke. Work with your doctor to determine your healthy weight and develop a plan to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Diabetes. Compared to women without diabetes, women with diabetes have two to four times higher death rates from heart disease. A family history of diabetes can significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes. To prevent or manage diabetes, watch your weight and diet, be active, don’t smoke, avoid secondhand smoke, and talk to your healthcare professional about your family history of diabetes.
There are additional factors that can cause heart disease, such as family health history, age, and gender. So encourage the women in your life to discuss their risks with their doctor. Having an open dialogue with your physician, curbing your risk factors and being aware of the signs of a heart attack can help save your or a loved one’s life.

Lastly, get involved with your local American Heart Association. Join Go Red for Women, walk at a Heart Walk, raise dollars that will help to find a cure for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart disease, congenital heart defects, and more. Find out more at www.heart.org or call 1-888-MY-HEART.

After my friends, picked their mouths up off the floor, I let them know that everything was fine. That there was no blockage. YAE! So my experience led to a great conversation that will be remembered should they ever experience shortness of breath, pressure in their chest, pain in their jaw or between their shoulder blades.

So get your girlfriends together, have a chat and bring them to a local Heart Walk. CoSozo will be at the Heart Walk in Lansing, Michigan on Saturday, September 13th. Register your team today at www.LansingHeartWalk.org.


Know the Warning Signs:
Heart disease is often silent; be sure to know warning signs of a heart attack.  The most common warning signs of heart attack are:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.
Women may have other, less common warning signs such as:
  • Atypical chest pain, stomach, or abdominal pain.
  • Nausea or dizziness.
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue.
  • Palpitations, cold sweat, or paleness.
Not all symptoms will occur in every attack. But should you, or someone you know, have some of these signs call 911 immediately to get help.

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