Let’s dive into the topic of women’s heart health! Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women? However, women are impacted differently and face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining their heart health. Here is another question – do you know your individual risk factors for heart disease? This an important question that most of us do not even think about or even address with our provider regularly. Historically, heart disease has been considered a “man’s disease”, but heart disease kills more women than men each year. It is the number one killer of females in the United States, impacting 1 out of 3 women. And 1 in 4 women are diagnosed with some manifestation of the disease during their lifetime. The American Heart Association reports that 90% of all women in the U.S. have at least one risk factor for heart disease. The most common risk factors include age, obesity, lack of healthy diet, lack of physical activity, genetics, smoking, excessive alcohol use, depression, and hormone levels. While other risk factors play essentials roles including inflammation in the body, the brain and gut connection, and genetic factors. With that said, many women are not equipped with the necessary tools to understand how to reduce their own risk factors to help prevent or reverse heart disease.
Chances are you know a little bit about heart disease and the different systems that work hard in your body. You might know something about cholesterol, the good and the bad and that you should monitor it, and you should probably monitor your blood pressure. Let’s answer a simple question here – What is heart disease? You might get on Google search and type in “heart disease”. You’ll get all sorts of answers and a range of definitions. Now let’s review just how powerful the heart is. In your lifetime, when we are born, we (majority of us) have healthy hearts and optimally functioning systems to help the blood flow through our body. In your lifetime, the heart will fill and empty at least 2.5 billion times and it beats about 100,000 times daily and over 40 million times in one year. It will pump over a million barrels of blood even when you are resting. But over time through a wide range of insults – our hearts, veins, arteries, and the rest of the nutrient delivery systems that keep our hearts functioning suffer damage that eventually causes heart disease. Thus, from what we can understand heart disease is a lot of different definitions you’ll find on the internet, none which are wrong, but fundamentally heart disease is really anything that damages the heart. The most understood definition of heart disease is a plaque that builds up over time and clogs arteries that restrict blood flow to the heart. This happens in men as well, but women’s blood vessels respond differently with symptoms that are much different than men. The scary part for women is that in about ½ of women who suffer from a heart attack, the first warning sign is sudden death. Therefore, it is called the silent killer. Heart disease is also a precursor to stroke that restricts blood flow to the brain. Many women are impacted by both heart disease and stroke.
There are many causes of heart disease but one of the main pillars of functional medicine and preventing heart disease and many other conditions is understanding how inflammation affects the heart and many other body systems. Inflammation is a primary driver of many kinds of chronic diseases including heart disease. Most chronic conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, are all “heart related diseases” that originate outside of the heart but can ultimately cause severe damage through a heart attack or a stroke. These heart related diseases are reversible and can be prevented through individualized tools and strategies to reduce your risk. The solution to heart disease for women is prevention and early recognition through increasing your awareness and knowledge.
Come learn how to prevent heart disease that impact women differently than men while also preventing stroke and other chronic conditions during the Women’s Heart Health Series. Let us debunk some common myths around heart disease that have developed over the years. During the group visits and the health coach session we will help you identify your own individualized risk factors and gain new knowledge on how to prevent and/or reverse your risk for heart disease. It is time to start taking the steps to a healthier and happier you!