February is American Heart Month and mamas, we are looking at you! Did you know heart disease claims the lives of women more than all cancers combined? Frightening statistic, isn’t it? We sat down with Dr. Lori Deemer from Hancock Health to get more information about heart disease and the important reasons as to why women need to be more aware of the signs, symptoms and risks.
What is heart disease?
Surely you have heard of the term heart disease, but what exactly is it? Dr. Deemer said the textbook definition is one or more symptoms, signs or complications from an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. with more women than men dying from the disease.
What causes heart disease?
According to Dr. Deemer, there are several factors that can cause heart disease in someone. Smoking, diabetes, elevated cholesterol and sedentary habits and lifestyle are some of the most common ones. Diet can also play a huge part in start of this disease, especially one that is low in plants, which is another reason to encourage your little ones to eat those fruits and vegetables! Family history and stress are also two other factors which can be the causes of heart disease as well.
If heart disease runs in my family, how can I reduce the risk?
As mentioned above, family history can be an indicator of this disease which is why it is important to be familiar with your family’s health background and history. However, Dr. Deemer said early screenings when you turn 40 are extremely important to help reduce your risk. Hancock Health offers heart scans for just $49 and these scans can be done without doctor orders.
Physical activity is also important to incorporate into your daily routine to help reduce your risk. Dr. Deemer recommends 150 minutes a week which is just about 20 minutes a day. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk around the hallways of your office, going for a brisk jog or even playing at the park with your family.
Finally and most importantly a plant strong diet, one that is high in fruits and vegetables, can help reduce your risk. Dr. Deemer also suggested limitations on fatty meats too if heart disease runs in your family.
Since diet is extremely important in the prevention of heart disease, what are some foods I should incorporate into my diet?
Dr. Deemer continues to stress the importance of a plant strong diet. That means at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Foods with Omega 3 fatty acids are also great additions to incorporate into your weekly meals. These types of food include lots seafood like salmon, oysters and anchovies. Flax and chia seeds are easy to include in shakes or salads along with walnuts and soybeans. An alternative for those who may not be seafood fans is to take a fish oil supplement daily to help you get those Omega 3s into your diet each day.
What are some myths about heart disease?
- If you have heart disease, you shouldn’t exercise.
According to Dr. Deemer, this is the exact OPPOSITE of what you SHOULD be doing. As mentioned above, at least 150 minutes of exercise a week are recommended.
- Cholesterol lowering medications are bad for you.
It’s important to listen to the research and expertise of the medical professionals, especially when it comes to lifesaving medication. Dr. Deemer stressed that cholesterol lowering medication is one of the most researched medications with powerful outcomes for patients. If you have questions, she recommends sitting down with your doctor to discuss them together.
- You must have a family history to develop heart disease.
While a family history will definitely put you at risk, it’s important to remember that ANYONE can develop heart disease, regardless if the disease is in your family or not. In people the ages of 45 to 64, statistics say that 1 in 9 of those people will have heart disease and these stats only get worse the older we get.
As previously mentioned, more women than men will die of heart disease. Dr. Deemer said that women will often downplay the symptoms of this disease because primarily we are the main caregiver in our households. We get it – we often think, “Who has time for a doctor’s appointment?” But sadly, heart disease is under treated and under referred in women when compared to men. Educate yourself to know the signs, symptoms, risks and causes and talk to your doctor too!
Looking for resources? Dr. Deemer recommends the American Heart Association as a great place to get facts and information about heart disease. The Women’s Cardiac Risk Clinic can also schedule you for a consultation and testing to help you prevent heart disease.
About Dr. Lori Deemer
Dr. Deemer wears many hats within the Hancock Health family! She’s a family physician as well as the Director of Population Health. With professional interests in weight management and women’s health, Dr. Deemer helped launch the Lighten Up Clinic which is dedicated to help patients with weight management and health improvement by changing lifestyle habits. She is a mom of three daughters and has been a longtime resident of Greenfield, Indiana.
The goal at Hancock Health is simple: To give every person the personalized attention necessary for a happy, healthy life. Their mission, vision, and values embody this goal.
Contact Hancock Health for more information or to schedule your next appointment!