Dr. Carolyn's Corner
“GO RED for WOMEN”: JOIN THE CAUSE
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Go Red For Women, the American Heart Association's movement to raise awareness of heart disease in women. This past week I had the distinct pleasure of taking part in the annual Go Red for Women Luncheon in San Antonio by serving on a physician panel with Dr. Diane Greiner, a local cardiologist, during one of several educational sessions offered to attendees.
Even though gynecologists are by no means specialists in diagnosing and treating heart disease, we are often looked upon by our patients as “primary care doctors”, and therefore may be the first to recognize signs and symptoms of heart disease in our patients. This fact explains why I was asked to take part in a question and answer session involving the audience.
One question directed to me was “What are the main risk factors for heart disease in women?” My answer contained the most commonly associated factors of obesity, lack of physical exercise, and smoking; however, I also chose to list two additional factors: patient denial of the need to work on those risk factors, and lack of persistence. Many of us have great intentions when we start heart healthy diets and exercise programs, but all too often we fall back into our old habits. I'm not sure this was a very popular answer with the audience, but I felt the truth needed to come out!
One of the most important points made during our session was that women need to take control of our health and that no one else is going to do it for us. This includes knowing :
- our individual risk factors for heart attacks and strokes
- our family history
- our blood pressure
- our cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels
We all need to realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women, not cancer as so many people think. I urge everyone to join the American Heart Association in it's effort to prevent heart disease in women. Much progress has been made, but there is still so much to do.
Let's get started now by doing things such as our annual wellness exams, getting back to a heart healthy diet and sticking to an exercise program. Persistence will pay off--of this I am certain!