Windber Medical Center

WIN 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 31

our heart will pump more than 1 million barrels of blood for you during your lifetime. But what do you do for your heart? If you're like most people, there are lots of small changes you can make to treat your heart more kindly. Although some heart disease risk factors, such as family history, can't be controlled, many can be—and without much effort if you know your body and what to do for it. Y FOOD FOR THOUGHT Dr. Georges B. Ghafari, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe in Grosse Pointe, Mich., typically sees patients after they have experienced cardiac symptoms or, in some cases, have already had a heart attack or other cardiac event. "Heart disease is a chronic disease that does not just happen one time, and that's why changes are necessary," says Dr. Ghafari. "If people have not done it on their own, we talk about the most important small steps." Often one of those steps is overhauling the patient's diet, a task that can be intimidating if someone quickly tries to shift from a fast-food habit to an all-organic way of eating, for example. "If someone eats breakfast at McDonald's and lunch at Burger King every day, we don't say, 'Stop eating fast food,'" Dr. Ghafari says. "We suggest, 'Decrease it to once a week.' We recommend eating an apple instead of chips with lunch." Dr. Divya Chauhan, who is in family practice at St. Luke's Hospital, St. Louis, also recommends easy diet changes such as switching from regular soda to diet soda or water, replacing butter with olive oil and using a smaller plate for meals, as smaller plates can help you focus on smaller portion sizes. GET MOVING Becoming—or staying—active is crucial to long-term heart health too. A regular exercise program helps to decrease your resting heart rate and boost good cholesterol, both factors that can help you live longer. Experts don't recommend that couch potatoes jump up and start running marathons. But small changes in exercise, akin to eating that apple instead of chips, can have a big impact on cardiac wellness. For every hour you spend walking, according to the American Heart Association, you can Myth vs. fact Heart disease MISCONCEPTIONS As easy as it is to make small changes for a big impact on your heart health, experts say one of the challenges is common misconceptions about heart disease. Here are three myths about heart disease that doctors want to bust. MYTH: "I don't have to worry because I'm still young. Isn't heart disease for old people?" FACT: Obesity, type 2 diabetes and other heart health risk factors are becoming more common in younger people. And if you use birth control pills or smoke, you need to be even more aware of your heart health. MYTH: "Heart attacks happen mostly to men." FACT: Heart disease actually kills more women than men, and more than all types of cancer combined. Of the American women who die each year, one in three dies from heart disease. MYTH: "I'll know if I'm having heart problems because I'll feel it in my chest." FACT: Many people, particularly women, have heart attack symptoms that are much less obvious, such as shortness of breath or nausea. increase your life expectancy by two hours. The AHA recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day and specifically recommends starting with walking because it's easy to do, inexpensive and available everywhere with no gear required. For simple ways to add walking to your everyday routine, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, mow your own lawn and work in the garden rather than hiring a service and even get up to do a few laps around the living room while watching TV in the evening. SLEEP ON IT Making sure you get a good night's sleep (seven to nine hours per night) is another small step with big payoffs for heart health, says Dr. Chauhan. In fact, a recent study in the Netherlands, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, suggests that seven or more hours of sleep nightly may help increase the benefits of adopting other heart-healthy behaviors such as eating a better diet and exercising regularly. "Heart disease is preventable, but it does get worse as time goes on if you don't try to do anything to stop it," says Dr. Ghafari. • SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m W I N T E R 2 014 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 17

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Windber Medical Center - WIN 2014