Celebrate Heart Health Month - Ellen Dolgen

Celebrate Heart Health Month

February is best known for Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, and the Super Bowl.

However, I saw this list of month-long observances that you may have missed. Who knew???:

  • Canned Food Month
  • Great American Pie Month
  • National Bird Feeding Month
  • National Cherry Month
  • National Grapefruit Month
  • National Children’s Dental Health Month
  • National Self-Check Month
  • National Grapefruit Month
  • National Hot Breakfast Month
  • National Library Lover’s Month
  • National Snack Food Month
  • National Embroidery Month
  • National Weddings Month

Oh, wait there is more. I received a random text last week to remind me to celebrate National Condom Week Feb 14-21st. At the age of 69, I found this text strangely comforting, as I realized that the Wizard of algorithms really does not know everything about me. Phew!

February is also Heart Health Month. Let’s chat about the connection between menopause and cardiovascular disease risks.

The American Heart Association notes that more than 1 in 3 adult women has some form of heart disease, and an overall increase in heart attacks among women is seen about 10 years after menopause.

Heart Disease is a silent disease that typically develops later in life for women rather than men. According to the American Heart Association, as women proceed through perimenopause in their late 40s and early 50s they produce less estrogen, have more belly fat, and their arteries become more vulnerable to disease. This results in our cardiovascular disease risks going up.

Unfortunately, although heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men, women are often not cared for like men nor put on the appropriate prevention drugs. Women are frequently advised to improve their lifestyles to prevent heart disease, while men are advised to take statins. That’s the finding of a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)on December 8, 2022, in Singapore.

It is important to note that according to the American Heart Association“An estimated 80% of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, are preventable.”

Here are some simple things that the American Heart Association recommends that you can do to be PROACTIVE about your heart health:

Get Proper Screening

  • Know your Blood Pressure.
  • Get evaluated for Diabetes.
  • You don’t have to have full-blown diabetes, but you may be in the pre-diabetes stage.
  • Know your cholesterol levels (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL). Untreated or poorly controlled high cholesterol or high blood pressure can lead to a build-up of plaque in your arteries.  This may cause them to narrow and harden.
  • These tests are very important because if you have a cluster of health conditions such as excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol, you are at risk of metabolic syndrome. People over the age of sixty are particularly vulnerable.  If you find that the results of any of these tests put you at risk, ask for a referral to see a cardiologist.  A cardiologist treats patients for the prevention and treatment of cardiac issues.

Be Physically Active

  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week. I walk  5X a week with several walking partners. We walk vigorously but still are able to chat and laugh.  I find the “buddy system” helps to make sure I get my aerobics in.
  • Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week.
  • Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
  • Gain even more benefits by being active for at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
  • Increase the amount and intensity gradually over time.

Chose Healthy Foods

  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat whole grains and products made up mostly of whole grains.
  • Get your protein from legumes, nuts, fish, and lean unprocessed poultry.
  • Stay away from saturated fats and trans fats as they can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Eat minimally processed foods.
  • Minimize your sugar intake.
  • Reduce your salt intake.
  • Limit or preferably eliminate alcohol.

Manage your Stress Levels

  • Long-term stress increases exposure to the stress hormone cortisol and increases the risk of heart disease in women over time, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • I read somewhere that exercise and listening to music can decrease stress. Grab your ear pods and put on some tunes and tune out while you work out!
  • Yoga and meditation are wonderful stress reducers.
  • Socializing in person can add joy and calmness to one’s life. My favorite in-person people are my two grandchildren. Playing with them transports me to their world of excitement, and freedom and feels like a burst of joy!
  • According to Abbott, sharing your heart can protect yours! I love this.

Quit Smoking!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know you are busy balancing a million things at once. Often so busy that you put yourself last on your, “To Do List.”  However, if you find yourself suddenly depressed, experiencing hot flashes, and night sweats please reach out to your menopause specialist as there are many studies discussing the link between hot flashes and night sweats to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors.  In addition, depression during the menopause transition can intersect with your cardiovascular disease risk.

Get the preventative tests you need, and take care of your body and overall health by exercising, eating healthy, and managing your stress levels. If you are at risk, ask for a referral to a cardiologist. Remember a cardiologist treats patients who have heart health-related issues BEFORE they become a problem in addition to those who already have cardiac issues.

Be proactive about your heart health. Reach out, speak up, and get the help you need and deserve.

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

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Download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

*EllenDolgen.com does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.


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