We are saving more heart attack victims from death, but not reducing the rate of Cardiovascular or Coronary Heart Disease
Heart health for women begins at home. It has to begin around our own kitchen tables because the truth is, conventional medicine is losing the battle against solving heart disease. Meal by meal, and step by step, women can use self-care habits at home to empower their hearts and future.
More than one million Americans have a heart attack each year. Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. has some form of heart disease. Last Monday, I thought it was my turn; I thought I was having a heart attack.
The Day Began in a Bad Way
Immediately upon rising, at home by myself, I began an eight-hour medical emergency. The most common symptom of heart attack in both men and women is chest pressure, pain or discomfort. My emergency began with more subtle symptoms; dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. My husband was at work and I was unable to shake off what felt like a dramatic case of stomach flu.
My training as a health coach taught me that women often have more subtle heart attack symptoms than men. Before experiencing deep chest pain, they may feel sick to their stomach, sweaty, discomfort in their upper back, neck, jaw, or shoulder. For several hours last Monday, all of these symptoms were mine to endure.
Mary Ann was Everyone’s Favorite
Heart health for women became my passion five years ago when I lost a close female friend to a heart attack. Her name was Mary Ann and she was the life of the party in my social circle in Colorado!
In her early 60s when she died, Mary Ann felt the subtle symptoms of a heart attack while at work, I was told. She called her husband, who picked her up to take her to the doctor. Once at the doctor, an ambulance was called, and my friend died at the hospital while receiving heroic medical care.
I can’t help but wonder…
I can’t help but wonder if she’d called 9-1-1 immediately, would she be saved? The medical industry has been treating heart fatalities by cutting the death rate in half over the past 40 years. If we receive timely medical care, we can likely survive to live another day. Preventative care is different. We all need to take responsibility for lifestyles that help us avoid heart disease. To the best of our ability, our heart health needs to be a top priority.
In my own possible heart attack experience, I remembered Mary Ann. Seven hours into feeling like a stomach flu patient, my left arm and chest began to hurt. The kind of hurt that takes your breath away. I called my husband and told him I was about to call 9-1-1. He said he’d rush home and take me to the doctor. We both remembered Mary Ann’s story, and without reminding each other of that sad lesson learned, the emergency call was made instead.
Silently Building Damage
Most of my health coaching clients are women and preventing disease is a big topic around here. Prevention of all chronic illnesses is a goal for my ideal client. She’s already heard me say that half of all heart attack deaths happen without a heart disease diagnosis. What does that mean and how could I be an effective coach in that light?
Heart disease can be silent and therefore undiagnosed in two specific ways. Firstly, people without a heart disease diagnosis can have inflammation silently damaging delicate blood vessels, and over time, clots build. These clots can break loose and block blood flow. Secondly, fatty deposits called plaques build up in arteries that carry blood to the heart. That’s called atherosclerosis, and most heart disease is caused by it.
Homemade Health for Inflammation and Fatty Plaques
I began this post by stating my professional opinion that heart health begins at home. The way we each live our daily lives can build health or build disease. Would you agree?
It’s important to understand the self-care steps we can all take to protect our hearts. That said, please hear me when I say that your medical team is step one. Anyone having concerns about heart disease should begin by speaking with their doctor. The role of a health coach like me is to encourage you to follow your doctor’s orders at home. Unless you get to take your doctor home with you as an accountability buddy, it’s likely you’ll need some day-to-day family, friend, and coach encouragement.
That encouragement looks like tending to stress, prioritizing sleep and recreation, eliminating inflammatory foods from daily menus. It also means consistently practicing the kind of self-care at home that feels right to you.
For my part as a coach you’re following, I’ve placed key online references to the bottom of this blog post. I’ve also saved a copy of my popular Heart Health For Women Handout for you. Grab your free copy and share it with your friends and sisters. It’s the third free resource on my Resources page.
Was I Lucky or Foolish?
Waiting to call for help until after I began having chest pain could have gone VERY wrong for me. I’ve never been diagnosed with heart disease, yet, as a woman in my 60s, I could unknowingly develop it. In fact, heart disease has a nickname: Silent Killer. I’m very lucky that what I was experiencing was not actually a heart attack in progress.
After two days recovering at home from this exhausting experience, I believe I’d be foolish to take my heart health for granted. Reflecting on how my body has been made more vulnerable during the past stressful year of Covid-19, it’s time for me to reinvigorate my own healthy habits! Who’s with me?!
Moving Forward from Here
My local hospital is staffed by some wonderful people! With my dear husband by my side, I was tested for all indicators of a recent, current, or imminent heart attack. We’re still studying the 20-pages of test results sent home with us. After receiving three bags of intravenous fluids to solve severe dehydration, I was released to come home. And that is a beautiful full circle for me! Home is where I wanted to be and home is where I can continue to practice the kind of self-care and health coaching that will help me avoid heart disease.
Speaking my Truth
I’ve taken stock of my current health status. During 2020 I put on extra weight. I was comfort-eating and staying home! As I write this message to you in May of 2021, I’m thrilled that it’s now safe for me as a fully vaccinated person to be more active in my neighborhood and inside of my local gym. I will follow the Solution Starter for Prediabetes Program I teach online. It will help me to drop my extra weight, increase my daily exercise, and manage stress. I feel confident that in six months or less, my own doctor will give me her two thumbs up!
If you have any questions about the resources I offer or how my own health journey progresses, I invite you to ask me! It’s easy to leave a question for me here.
Self-care is not selfish. When we take care of our hearts as part of a self-care routine, we reduce our risk of heart disease and set an example for those around us to do the same. – American Heart Association
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