Thanks to Valentine’s Day, February is a month filled with red hearts. I just bought my cards and heart-shaped candy for my sweetheart L. I always tell him how lucky he is to be my boyfriend.
February is also a month to honor your own heart and make sure it stays healthy year-round. I learned more about heart health from the American Heart Association (AHA) Go Red For Women Campaign and wanted to share it with all of you. Boomer girls are especially prone to heart disease after menopause as our estrogen levels decrease causing a whole lot of ruckus in our body. While heart disease and stroke kill one in three women, the good news is that 80 percent is preventable.
So what are you doing to take care of your heart?
I talked with Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist and Director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, to learn more about menopause and what boomer girls can do to stay in tip-top shape. Here are excerpts:
Q: How does menopause impact heart health?
♥ “Menopause is so fascinating,” said Dr. Steinbaum. “It is about the closing out of our time to reproduce. Estrogen levels decrease and the benefits of estrogen decline. Blood pressure rises. LDL – the bad cholesterol rises. Research has shown that 10 years after menopause has occurred that heart disease increases because you no longer have any estrogen left in your body.” (Ugh! This is depressing. I feel like I may need to eat all those heart-shaped chocolates I just bought for L. Isn’t dark chocolate good for the heart?)
Q: What can menopausal (and post-meno) women do to prevent heart disease?
♥ “First, train for menopause like you are training for a marathon,” said Dr. Steinbaum. “It’s really about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.” (A marathon! A marathon! I can barely run a mile these days.)
Q: If I can’t run a marathon, how can I maintain a healthy heart?
Dr. Steinbaum shared the three key components of a healthy lifestyle:
♥ “Exercise is the best medication to keep cholesterol down,” said Dr. Steinbaum. “You need a combination of exercise, including cardiovascular exercise where you get your heart rate up — 30 minutes five days a week is recommended such as rapid walking, jogging, or Zumba. You can do cardio-workouts in 10 minute increments throughout the day.”
To calculate your cardio-workout heart rate use the following equation:
(220 – YOUR AGE x .85)
(Okay, got it! Looks like I may have to get back on the treadmill or start walking on the track. Maybe I should study to be a Zumba Gold instructor after I finish my yoga training. How am I going to fit all this cardio-exercise into my schedule in addition to yoga and bicycling? Glad stretching and relaxation exercises are important too. Forget about sleeping. Not to worry — with no more estrogen in my body I won’t be sleeping for long periods anyway.)
♥ “Maintain a healthy diet and healthy weight,” said Dr. Steinbaum. (I told Dr. S that my cholesterol is very high, inching up to 275 last year. I told her I can’t tolerate statins and that my triglycerides are low, and my HDL, the happy cholesterol is high, so my ratio of HDL to LDL is good. My mom had high cholesterol and my dad died of heart disease and diabetes so genetics are not on my side. I just went on Zetia, which is not a statin, but helped to lower my cholesterol a few years ago. Dr. S suggested some functional foods to consume that can help decrease LDL including, salmon rich in Omega-3, avocado, olive oil, and whole grains.)
♥ “Manage your stress levels and learn to relax,” said Dr. Steinbaum. (I’m getting better at this step now that I am retired from corporate life and have a more flexible schedule. I use yoga and mindfulness meditation practices to help me stop, breathe, and be. I’m also beginning to say ‘no’ more, as my executive coach D told me several months ago, “No is a full sentence Judi.”)
Dr. Steinbaum ended our chat with a helpful reminder to all women: “It’s never too late to prevent heart disease,” she said. “You can’t always live after a heart attack, but you can prevent a heart attack and stroke. I tell women who come see me that this is for you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Do it today!”
Go Red For Women
Friday, February 6, is “National Wear Red Day” to support the fight against heart disease in women. Wear red to show your support for saving women’s lives. Share your Go Red on your social media profiles using #GoRed. For more information about heart health check out goredforwomen.org.
Stay tuned next week — in honor of Valentine’s Day I’ll be featuring my interview with world-traveler and AARP’s Love & Relationship Ambassador, Dr. Pepper Schwartz. Find out about her new book, Places For Passion, and enter a giveaway to win a complimentary copy.
My family has a significant history of heart disease so it’s always on my mind. You look great in red!!
Thanks Allison. I hardly ever wear red anymore. Sorry that your family has a history of heart disease like mine. Hope you are doing okay with your heart health.
I came across your blog. I just wrote a post on Go RED for Women too. You can check it out if you wish. Too funny, glad other women are out there helping promote heart health for women.
Michelle, you didn’t leave your blog address so I’m not sure how to find it. Click on commentluv and it will connect to your latest post. Glad we are both promoting heart health for women. It is an important message to get out there.
I read in one research that the greatest anti-aging regimen invented by mankind is exercise. By adapting a great exercise program, we can reverse the hands of time.
I agree Jocelyn, exercise can help with anti-aging.
Thank you for this advice. I’m concerned about keeping myself healthy in my old age, so I’ve been doing some research on heart health. I didn’t realize that menopause could have such an impact on a woman’s heart. I’ll have to make an appointment with a heart doctor and make sure my heart is okay.
Susan, glad this information was helpful. Unfortunately, the loss of estrogen impacts your body during your life after 50.
Heart disease runs in my family, so I want to make sure that I am in tip top shape. What are the common battery of tests done during a heart exam? Currently, I am healthy, but I just want to make sure that I stay that way for decades to come.
Bryan, I’m sorry to hear that heart disease runs in your family. I would suggest you ask your doctor about tests for heart disease.
Excellent article that was written about keeping a healthy heart. It sure is something to show my aunt and just talk it over to her. So far, I’ve only taken her once to see the heart doctor but my wife has been telling me to take her there more often because of her worry for my aunt.
Correy, glad you found the post helpful.
One of my biggest fears is having a heart attack and dying. With that being the case, I\’m trying to learn more about hearth health and what I can do to prevent it from happening. This has some good points that I think could help me out.
Oh wow, this sure sounds interesting and something for me to maybe share to my wife. Well, since she is wanting to know more about women’s health care. Now that she’s pregnant she’s become more serious about her health and that of the baby.
Never too early to take care of your heart.
I always fear the fact of reaching the menopausal stage, there’s just too many complications and heart problem is what I am scared of the most! Thanks for posting this Judi!
Kimberly, hopefully you will stay healthy throughout menopause and the second half of your life.
First of all, being bored at work does pay well if you have a Smartphone and you browse through blogs.
Amazing information with facts thoughtfully incorporated within. Definitely going to come back for more! 🙂
I always have problem while I had a stressful working day. At that time, taking a short walk or turn on the white noise machine is good way to sleep well. Thanks for sharing great tips.
Glad you found the tips helpful.
I came across your blog. found your article very informative.
keep posting buddy!!!
Thanks for sharing a very important news.
Have a nice day ahead!!!
Hi Judi,Thanks for sharing such an informative article. Nowadays heart disease is very common in every home and if not taken care of it, will be very harmful for the health of individual.We should always take care of diets. Certain foods can help keep your heart healthy. Nuts, beans and fresh fruit and vegetables contain nutrients that give your heart a boost.Thanks and RegardsJerry
Jerry, thanks for the tips about what to eat.