Tipping My Hat To Moms
Wearing a lot of hats is something moms are accustomed to. In a single day we change from chef to ref, teacher to preacher, the keeper of all things, the sweeper, we turn into drivers and sometimes feel like MacGyver. We have even been known to pull a rabbit out of a hat from time to time. With all of these hats we sometimes forget to put on the one for our self. This happened to me not long ago. I was skilled at wearing my hats as executive and wife. But not advocating for myself enough nearly cost me my life.
Our heart goes out to our children, friends and family but it can also go out on us.
Mine did literally a year ago when I had heart failure. When you hear the term “heart disease” many people think “that’s a man’s disease”. But here’s The Heart Truth: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. One in four women dies of heart disease.
For African American women, the risk is especially great. It is more prevalent among black women than white women. I had the pleasure of tipping my hat to moms and speaking at “Hattitude: Hats Off For Heart Health”. A lunch and learn event by LEWAC Associates of WNY and their CEO Catherine Lewis-Smith. I shared my heart story of suffering from Cardiomyopathy a disease that came on during my pregnancy.
LEWAC assembled a great panel of doctors including Dr. Glen R. Smith who encouraged women to have a great dialogue and to partner with their primary care doctors, Dr. Raul Vazquez who helped field questions from the audience and two Cardiologists Dr. Kenneth Gayles and Dr. Kenton Forte who excellently shared the risk factors and steps that you can take to prevent heart disease.
Dr. Gayles pointed out that the women often miss symptoms of heart trouble. They are frequently different than men. Men often get a classic tightness in the chest. This is not always experienced by women. Fatigue, shortness of breath and palpitations are some of the symptoms that women can experience if having heart trouble. I could identify greatly with this. I suffered from these symptoms for weeks but was unaware that it was related to my heart. Here are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease; high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
These are some of the steps I am taking and were recommended by the doctors for a healthy heart:
* Take charge of your blood pressure. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
* Control your cholesterol. Total cholesterol should be less than 200.
* Track your blood sugar. Normal non-fasting blood sugar should be less than 140
* Eat smart and enjoy regular exercise. Physical activity should be at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. Eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
* Don’t smoke.
* Visit your healthcare provider at least once a year.
There’s a great quote, “With the right hat, nothing else matters”. The hat that all women must put on is the CEO of self. Advocating for yourself enables you to do so for others. You can’t be helpful if you aren’t healthy. And, there’s good news for women. You can take action and lower your chance of developing heart disease and its risk factors. In fact, women can considerably lower their heart risk by just by leading a healthy lifestyle.