Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer of women. In the US alone, about 1/3 of women are living with CVD. As a gynecologist, heart disease is not something I routinely treat but it is something I ask my patients about. It’s important because most heart disease can be prevented through education and lifestyle modification. And because many women don’t survive their first heart attack, waiting until something happens or symptoms start just might be too late.
We don’t educate women enough on their risk of heart disease or the symptoms of cardiovascular problems. Most women don’t think that nausea, back pain, or jaw pain might indicate a problem with their heart. But the truth is that most CVD is preventable. As physicians we can encourage our patients to exercise and lose weight as well as make sure their cholesterol and blood pressure is well controlled. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise (think brisk walk around the neighborhood) 5 days a week can help reduce your risk of heart disease! It is routine for me to discuss cervical and breast cancer screening with my patients…CVD prevention should be just as important. I try to always ask about exercise habits and find out when the last time the patient had cholesterol screening.
One of the things I don’t think about much is how chronic stress can affect your heart. I think many of us spend our days fearful about what the future holds, worried about what our friends and neighbors are doing and buying, angry about how the world and it’s occupants have dealt with us.
The quote in the picture above is from the sermon at my church today. Taylor’s dad Jon is our senior pastor. Pastor Jon reminded us that what we know from the past shapes us, but, no matter what we must move forward with hope. I would add that I think we are paralyzed by our past, our present and sometimes the future. What does your heart need? Maybe to let go of fear and embrace faith. Let go of your anger and hostility and embrace grace and hospitality. I need to be reminded of this frequently. I let my fears overcome my faith. I am held captive by anger and resentment. For my heart, both literally and spiritually, may I be reminded daily to let my faith be greater than my fear. May we all move forward in hope and courage.