It is that time of year again when we are encouraged to wear red to increase awareness of heart disease in women. Here are the unsettling facts about heart disease in women:
-Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing one woman every minute
-90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease
-Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen
-While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease
The Go Red for Women’s message is simple- “It’s time to focus on finding, and becoming the solution. It’s time to go red!”
Further information from the American Heart Association in terms of how to prevent heart disease specifies “caring for your heart through a healthy diet and regular physical activity is the secret weapon to preventing heart disease. While many may assume that popping a few pills that your healthcare provider prescribed is enough to quell symptoms or prevent a heart attack, the real preventative power lies with real changes to your lifestyle, which can reduce the risk factor for heart disease by as much as 80%.” They go on to list Life’s Simple Seven:
-Get active: 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 times a week
-Eat better (veggies, fish, unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods, less sugar and saturated fats)
-Manage blood pressure
-Reduce blood sugar
In addition, they add these helpful hints:
-Know your family history of heart disease
-Get the sleep you need
-Practice portion control with your food
-Reduce stress in your life
My favorite part in the AMA’s information is their section entitled HEART HEALTHY AT 50:
“As women age, we lose some of our body’s natural defenses against heart disease. This can happen because of changes in hormones from menopause, which can affect your cholesterol levels. Also, type 2 diabetes usually develops in women after age 45. Hormonal changes that usually take place in our late 40’s and 50’s make our health an even greater consideration as we age. Understand how menopause could impact your heart health and learn more about hormonal treatment therapies. Play an active role in your healthcare and work with your doctor to determine if you have any heart disease risk factors. If you are already at risk, ask your doctor how you can reduce it:
-Get heart screenings
-Know your numbers
-Watch what you eat
About a year ago, I wrote an article entitled “Customized Bioidentical Hormones and Heart Health” where I talked about what we know in regards to positively impacting the prevention of heart disease. We know that bioidentical estrogen has positive effects on cardiovascular health because it is a vasodilator and actually relaxes the endothelial lining of the blood vessels, thus lowering the risk of blood clots. Bioidentical progesterone is a natural diuretic. It lowers blood volume, thus lowering blood pressure and putting less stress on the cardiovascular system. In addition, testosterone therapy impacts the effectiveness of the heart by improving muscle contractility and strength.
It is important to understand that maintaining cardiovascular health with physiological dosing of BHRT (estradiol, progesterone and testosterone), along with diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplements can greatly impact cardiovascular health. Current belief by Functional Medicine doctors and anti-aging experts concur that cardiovascular disease is caused by inflammation, stress and an overactive immune response. Furthermore, foods that contain transfats, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup can cause excessive inflammatory reactions within the linings of blood vessels that lead to clots and cardiovascular events (stroke and heart attack). Taking omega 3’s, aged garlic, niacin, resveretrol and N-acetyl cystine in conjunction with drug therapy (low dose statins and ace inhibitors) can greatly reduce inflammatory factors and help prevent cardiovascular events. These strategies offer the best protection and prevention of heart disease.
Compare the difference in the body of knowledge and the health tips between the American Medical Association and A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine) And I have to ask WHY? Why isn’t the knowledge I know, common knowledge? Why isn’t our current standard of care up to speed with this important life-changing information? There are studies (www.invigom98.sg-host.com/Resources & Reading/Practitioner’s Resources) available. We give them out at our Happy Hormone Cottages.
Wearing red to promote heart health awareness, like wearing purple to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, is not a bad thing. It just isn’t enough. We need to continue to spread the word on the truth of hormone balance and how IT positively impacts heart health. The truth is that the latest information shows that “refilling our hormone tanks” is critical for the prevention of heart disease, breast cancer, dementia and osteoporosis. We need to continue to get the word out by educating and empowering women so they can educate their doctors. We MUST stop focusing on menopause and broaden the perspective to HORMONE IMBALANCE that plagues all women after age 35. Yes, the 7 Healthy Heart Tips make sense. But, in addition, we need to be refilling our hormone tanks for our best health naturally. Estrogen alone performs over 300 jobs in our bodies. We begin to lose our estrogen as we enter menopause (whereas we begin to lose progesterone around age 35….thus we consider this a hormone imbalance issue as opposed to a menopause issue). If we don’t replenish our estrogen receptors, how are these jobs going to get done? And I don’t consider slapping on an estrogen patch or taking an estradiol pill refilling our hormone receptors. I’m talking about physiological dosing of customized BHRT for EACH woman based on her test results (and not determined through blood serum).
It is imperative we do everything we can to own our own journey to our heart health by not only adopting the 7 Healthy Heart Tips from the AMA, but by also REFILLING OUR HORMONE TANKS, reducing the foods we eat that contain transfats, sugar and high fructose corn syrup, taking omega 3’s and the other supplements mentioned above that reduce inflammation and help prevent cardiovascular events. And yes, we can continue to wear red! I only hope we can continue to broaden our perspective to include this holistic health approach discussed above, as well.