I love acronyms. They help us remember and organize. And there is good reason for this when it comes to the importance of cardiovascular health for women.
February as Go Red month for women has been a great reminder to take care of this precious part of us. I’ve enjoyed participating in several events this month around my this important yearly reminder. Thanks to the American Heart Association we’re reminded each year that red is a color for energy, passion, action. So let’s use that energy for our health.
R is for Rest
Do you get enough sleep? What kind of stress are you under? Your body and mind need time to recover each day. Yes, there are times when we won’t get as much sleep, but if this is a continued problem, it should not be ignored. Take action to get your rest and if you try and then can’t sleep, get some help. See someone who can look at the big picture and help your body have healthy sleep patterns. And sleeping pills are not the long term answer! Feeling stressed all the time is not good for your heart.
There are actually two R’s that are important. Have you looked at your cardiovascular RISK factors? Do you know your cholesterol numbers? Have you checked your blood pressure? Your genes are not your destiny but you need to work with a doctor who will look at the big picture and help you reduce your modifiable risk factors. And that does not mean just take a statin pill and forget it.
E is for Exercise
It’s a theme everywhere, but moving your body is important. That doesn’t mean intense marathon-type work-outs for most people. It means using your heart muscle to move the blood throughout your body.
Here’s another E that’s important: eat healthy! This is also a theme everywhere. Eat whole food and avoid processed food. To quote author Michael Pollen:
Eat whole food, not too much, mostly vegetables.
Don’t stress over the food but enjoy it, eat with common sense and not in extremes. Team up with a health care provider who knows about nutrition.
D is for Decide
Decide that you are important! The truth is, we all will die eventually but the only one who can decide how you live and what is important to you is you. By taking the time to take care of yourself, you are caring for the vessel that is here to do what you want to in this life. This is essential to your heart health.
Discomfort is another D word. Physical discomfort is your body talking to you, don’t ignore it.
Your body is smart. If you are experiencing pain or the sense of something is not right, don’t dismiss it. It’s your body speaking to you. There are tests to rule out different urgencies of your symptoms. Find a health professional who can help you decipher this discomfort.
Believe it or not, heart disease is the leading cause of death for females – even before breast cancer and other cancers. We need our hearts… and as women, I know our hearts are big, generous and sometimes broken. Take care of yours!
BONUS: Double-check these Warning Signs each year so you recognize the signs.