If you knew you could have stopped that balsamic vinegar from splattering on your favorite white sweater, would you have done something to prevent it from happening? And if you knew you were going to drive into a pothole, causing your tire to go flat, would you have taken a different route?
Yes, all of the above situations could have been prevented if you would have anticipated these problems in the first place, but unless you’re clairvoyant, it’s not very easy to prevent something you can’t predict. When it comes to your body, right now, as you read this story, there are accidents inside you waiting to happen: whether it’s potential damage from high blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels, this is the time to take charge of your health. Many of us are also fighting against our family histories.
For too many years, I’ve seen women in my practice overcome with worry and concern over their husband’s health. They know every little detail about his medical history, laboratory values, and current medications. Yet when it comes to themselves … their chief complaint is, “I hate the way I look.” It’s not until I scratch below the surface or consult with their physicians that I discover they have a soaring cholesterol level, or a family history of diabetes, or that they’re going through menopause and have a mother and grandmother suffering from osteoporosis.
These women don’t realize that they too can stand among their sisters, who together make up one scary statistic: More than 435,000 women have heart attacks each year. In fact, more women die of heart disease than of all types of cancer combined. And more than 42 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and many don’t even know it.
My connection to heart disease gets personal and is close to my own heart. My dad, mom, brother, and sister all had or have heart disease. That means that this silent killer could be at my doorstep … but that doesn’t mean I’m putting out a welcome mat! You may not be able to pick your parents, but you can pick what goes on your plate.
Fighting heart disease in women is not just about putting on a red dress or eating heart-healthy foods during February, which is American Heart Month. It’s about making some room on your own to-do list and trying to take small steps to promote a healthy lifestyle. As a mom of three and a diehard foodie, my kitchen is the heart of my home. Let’s all fight together to keep our hearts safe and strong.
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