5 Ways to Fight Heart Disease in Women | Interview With Kardie Tobb, DO, and Gayatri Acharya, MD
A few ounces of prevention make a world of difference when combating heart disease in women. Kardie Tobb, DO, and Gayatri Acharya, MD, share their top tips to stave off the number one cause of death for women in the United States.
1. Know Your Risk
Dr. Tobb: "I want women to be empowered by first understanding their risk for heart disease. There are sex-specific factors that can increase the risk of heart disease in women. For instance, adverse pregnancy outcomes, including but not limited to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm labor, which are predictors of risk for future cardiovascular disease. Other diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer, which are predominant in women, can increase your cardiovascular risk as well. So, please get screened, educate yourself, be your own hero and ask questions. Every question is important; therefore, please ask."
2. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
Dr. Tobb: "Once you have your risk information, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Please limit the use of alchohol. Please stop smoking. Cone Health offers a free, eight-session smoking cessation course that has really helped my patients. And of course, exercise and eat healthier meals."
Dr. Acharya: "I agree. Really pay attention to your diet. Just remember at least 80% of the time to make that smart choice. I recommend the Mediterranean diet to my patients."
3. Exercise Regularly
Dr. Acharya: "I think we underestimate the value of exercise. When we have patients in their 90s, both men and women, the number one thing they tell me is that they stay active. Regular exercise is the first thing I recommend to my patients. In addition to eating healthy, I recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can be cumulative. If you take five minutes to climb the stairs or 10 minutes to walk around the block, add this to your 30-minute total. We also know that getting your heart rate up for 60 to 90 seconds at a time has a significant positive impact on heart health."
4. Make Time for Yourself
Dr. Acharya: "So many women put everybody else before themselves. It’s so easy to come in last place. I remember something my parents told me all the time, which is, 'You can’t take care of anybody else unless you take care of yourself.' You can’t be around for them if you’re not around. That’s what I tell my patients. Even five minutes a day to put yourself first is a good place to start. You are an important part of this bigger picture that you’re trying to sustain."
5. Take Advantage of Community Resources
Dr. Acharya: "One resource my patients have had a lot of success with recently is Cone Health’s Healthy Weight and Wellness center. It’s a structured approach to weight loss and health management. It’s frequent check-ins but with a medical spin. Seeking out that extra support can really make a difference."
Dr. Tobb: "Another option is Heart Sisters — WomenHeart of Cone Health, a support group that meets at the Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center and consists of women in a variety of age groups. It’s geared toward women who have or who are at risk for heart disease. Often, women who have mothers who had heart disease are wary of their futures. They ask, 'What am I supposed to do? Who can I talk to?' First, discuss this with your primary care provider. For a less intimidating option, you can meet with the Heart Sisters. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org"
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