Although our primary healthcare focus at The Woman’s Clinic is on obstetrics and gynecology, we would be remiss not to mention the importance of cardiovascular health for all of our patients, regardless of age, both when pregnant or not. No matter how much attention you pay to important women’s health issues, if you avoid your heart health, you could be setting yourself up for heart disease or cardiovascular disorders.
What Are Cardiovascular Diseases?
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that describes all manner of conditions that affect your heart. Since your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, it’s important to keep it healthy, beating efficiently, and properly pumping blood throughout the rest of your body. When we use the term cardiovascular disease, we’re referring to the following conditions–heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve issues.
What Causes Cardiovascular Disease?
In order to understand how to prevent cardiovascular disease, you first need to understand what causes cardiovascular disease. There are a number of common risk factors for heart disease, some of which are in your control to change or manage, and others that come along with genetics or aging. Those risk factors that are within your control include being a smoker, having high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, having high blood pressure, being obese or overweight, physical inactivity, and having diabetes.
Other risk factors not in your control include gender since men are more prone to having heart disease, having a family history of the disease, being post-menopausal, and aging. If any of these risk factors apply to you, you should take a moment to assess what you can do to help lower your risk and get to a place where you are extending and improving your heart health.
What Are Symptoms Of Cardiovascular Disease?
Now that you know what cardiovascular disease is and what can contribute to or cause it, it’s important to know what the symptoms are and if you should be worried about it personally. Symptoms can vary based on both the patient and the severity or type of disease you're dealing with. Some symptoms might include fluttering in your chest, chest pain and discomfort, either a racing or slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, fainting, and dizziness. It’s important to call attention to the fact that women might experience heart attacks differently than men, with symptoms including pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach, breaking out into a sweat, nausea and vomiting, or pressure in the chest.
What Should I Be Doing To Improve My Heart Health?
Some of the best things you can do are to take steps to improve your overall and general health. Quit smoking and drinking, take a look at your diet and lower your red meat consumption, start eating more fiber, fruits, and veggies. However, even though these lifestyle changes do make a big difference, you might see your biggest improvements from starting up a regular exercise routine.
If you’re currently not physically active, this task might seem daunting, but it is important to work up to duration and intensity. Make sure you get quality cardiovascular exercise as often as you can, with a target of about 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
If you’re having trouble setting aside those blocks of time everyday, you can fit them in throughout your day in small chunks. You could take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, take a brisk walk after eating lunch, jog in place while watching TV in the evenings, or go for a swim if you have a pool. Remember, even light exercise is more beneficial than no exercise at all. All of the steps above will not only lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, but also of certain types of cancer, joint pains, and other diseases like diabetes. Additionally, in order to stay on top of your general health and wellness, remember to schedule your annual wellness exam at The Woman’s Clinic. We will be happy to discuss any concerns with you then.