I would be remiss if I did not have a “heart to heart” conversation with you this month about keeping your heart healthy. Yes, boomer girls, I’m talking to you. Have you had your cholesterol checked lately? If not, this month is a great time to get your lab work done. February is National Heart Month and there are few more days left in the month.

I had my cholesterol checked since I was having issues with the new statin drug Crestor that my cardiologist had given me awhile ago. I was only taking about 3 pills a week at the time but my muscles began to ache around my knees and hips. I thought it was from exercising, but it turned out that even with a very small dosage my body was not welcoming any form of statin.

“What should I do?” I asked my doctor at the time. “There’s nothing more we can try. Just go off everything for now and let’s retest in a few months,” said my cardiologist Dr. P.

My general practitioner Dr. S reviewed my most recent lab results during my wellness check up:

Cholesterol 241 mg/dL – that’s high according to the American Heart Association (AHA) charts. (Uh oh! Oh no! That’s bad.)

HDL 92 mg – Let’s see, the AHA website says that “high HDL cholesterol 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease. (Yeah, that’s good.)

Triglycerides 64 mg/dL – AHA says less than 100 mg/dL is optimal. (Wahoo! I’m really doing good with my triglycerides.)

LDL 136 mg/dL – AHA says 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high. (Uh oh! Oh no! That’s bad.)

So I have two good numbers and two bad numbers. What should I do? What should I do?

“Your profile isn’t that bad. And your glucose is 87 mg/dL so you are not diabetic” said Dr. S. “Keep taking your fish oil, watch your diet and keep exercising. We’ll check your cholesterol again in a few months.”

I felt a bit better after my visit to Dr. S. I was glad that I had my labs done and am feeling much better – no more aches since I went off the statin drug. I will visit my cardiologist as well next month for my annual heart health checkup.

In the winter issue of the Cooper Hospital Health Connection, Cooper cardiologists report that the symptoms that can signal a heart attack can be different for women versus men. Symptoms for women include:

– Indigestion, nausea

– Burning in chest

– Pain radiating to back, jaw and shoulders

– Dizziness

– Onset sudden, overwhelming fatigue

I also went and bought a jar of aspirin to have in the house just in case I ever have symptoms of a heart attack and need to chew an aspirin while I dial 911.

The New York Times journalist Annahad O’Connor writes in her article “Really? During a Heart Attack, Dial 911 and Chew an Aspirin?” that “Some people may suspect that chewing an aspirin, which inhibits platelet activity that could block arteries during an attack, makes little difference. But a study in The American Journal of Cardiology highlighted its importance. In a group of 12 subjects tested in a laboratory, chewing an aspirin tablet for 30 seconds before swallowing on an empty stomach prompted a 50 percent reduction in platelet activity in five minutes. It took 12 minutes to achieve the same effect when the aspirin was swallowed whole.”

O’Connor further writes that “Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, said people who suspect they are having an attack should chew one full-strength tablet, which is 325 milligrams. But most important, she added, is to “get to an emergency room.” (I hear you Dr. Merz and I will listen if this ever happens to me…and thank you Barbara Streisand for all you do for women’s heart health…oh yes, and you sang a beautiful tribute to Marvin Hamlisch at the Oscars last night, my favorite song “Memories.”)

I hope to keep my baby boomer heart beating healthfully during my life after 50. Better not eat too many pieces of blueberry pie – instead I’ll try to enjoy my blueberries with a little non-fat frozen yogurt .

Cheers to heart health. How are you keeping your cholesterol down? Do please share a tip or two.


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