Taking Women’s Health to Heart

I recently attended a continuing education webinar with one of my medical guru’s Dr. Cynthia Geyer. Dr Geyer is the medical director at Canyon Ranch, she is triple board certified in functional, lifestyle and internal medicine; she is also on the team of Food as Medicine faculty at Kripalu where I received my certification as a Food as Medicine Coach.

Dr. Geyer and her team have done extensive research on heart disease and women and what they have discovered is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 50. One third of women over 50 will die of a heart attack or stroke. These statics are alarming however; lifestyle and exercise can greatly reduce this risk.

It is important to be aware of the risk factors such as family history, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress and the western diet. Women who have frequent migraines and suffer from Raynaud’s disease also have an increased risk of a cardiac event. You can evaluate your risk at www.goredforwomen.org

35 % of US adults and 50% of those over 60 meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome which increases your risk of diabetes, heart attack or stroke. So what can we do?

80% of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes may be preventable by leading a healthy lifestyle.

What constitutes a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, proper body composition, no smoking, low alcohol intake, eating whole foods, proper sleep and keeping stress levels low. Sadly, only 2% of the US population meets this criteria.

Dr Geyer and her team have looked at a number of different studies on lifestyle and heart health.The INTERHEART Study looked at psychosocial stress levels across 52 different countries.What they discovered is that our emotions and stress levels are reflected in our heart rhythms. When we are frustrated or stressed, our heart rhythms are short and jagged, when we are in a deep state of appreciation, our heart rhythms are long, supple and smooth, like a wave.

Nutrition plays a key role in women’s heart health, Dr Geyer recommends the Mediterranean diet as a sustainable plan. Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, polyphenols, folate, vitamins C and E. Late night eating increases the risk of obesity by 50%, try to have your last meal of the day at least 3-4 hours before you go to bed. If you must eat late, eat light.

Proper sleep is extremely important for heart health, try to create a sanctuary for sleep, turn of all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, develop a meditation practice if you have difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Exercise with a friend or in a group. Djembe drumming, which is a low to moderate form of exercise ; lowers stress and anxiety.  Interestingly, when drumming in a circle or in a group, everyone’s heart rhythms synchronize.

Your Mac team is here for you offering fitness, wellness, group exercise, massage and acupuncture. Together we can assist you with your lifestyle and fitness goals.

Written By: Marlene Dickinson
Holistic Wellness Coach/Director of Wellness
BA Psychology/Sports Nutrition/Food as Medicine

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