It's American Heart Month, sis.
Risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and physical inactivity put Black women at a higher risk for heart disease. These factors can be controlled by lifestyle and dietary changes. So it's time to literally take the necessary steps to protect your heart.
Other factors, like a family history of early heart disease can't be controlled. For women, heart disease becomes a risk factor at 55. That’s because, as the American Heart Association explains, after menopause, women are more likely to get heart disease. Partly, this is because their body no longer produces estrogen. Also, middle age is a time when women tend to develop other heart disease risk factors. That's even more incentive to take care of ourselves, physically and emotionally.
Stress can also wreak havoc on our heart health. So make self-care a priority, whatever that looks like for you. Light some candles, put on your favorite playlist and soak in Epsom salts. Taking a socially distanced nature walk. Work in your garden. Take a yoga, dance or meditation class.
Now that you've been reminded of some of the risk factors, here's a handy list of ten questions to ask your doctor during your next check up, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI's Heart Truth for Women campaign.
1. What is my risk for heart disease?
2. What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what do I need to do about it?
3. What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood and food.) What do they mean for me, and what do I need to do about them?
4. What are my “body mass index” (BMI) and waist measurement? Do they mean that I need to lose weight for my health?
5. What is my blood sugar level, and does it mean I’m at risk for diabetes? If so, what do I need to do about it?
6. What other screening tests for heart disease do I need?
7. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
8. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
9. What’s a heart healthy eating plan for me?
10. How can I tell if I may be having a heart attack? If I think I’m having one, what should I do?