February is Heart Health Awareness Month. February is also Black History Month. How are these two events related? Well I’m glad you asked. Heart disease is the leading cause of death not just for women in general but especially for African American women. At least 40% of Black women over the age of 20 have cardiovascular disease (source: CNN). Heart disease kills more women than all of the cancers combined. That’s an alarming statistic but one that is primarily preventable. Here’s how…
- Diet and Exercise, the two necessary evils, will not only transform your external body they will also transform your internal body. Thirty minutes of vigorous activity a day in addition to a high fiber, low-fat, low-salt diet will reap tremendous heart healthy benefits. You will see reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar, not to mention an added boost in energy and libido (yep I said it!). Getting your groove back is a lot easier to do when blood can easily flow to the appropriate places.
- Stop Smoking! The ingredients in cigarettes are like gum. Once inhaled they create a sticky residue that loves to attach to the inside of your arteries and veins and slow down your ticker. Not to mention, the gas that is inhaled while smoking attaches to your blood cells rather than the oxygen you are supposed to be inhaling. I like to encourage my patients to start their first cigarette an hour later every day or every week. Cold turkey doesn’t work for everybody.
- Let go and let God! This means relax, chill out, don’t sweat the small stuff or the big stuff either. Stress is a psychological burden that has physical consequences. When stress invades your life, the heart races at an unhealthy speed. Prolonged heart racing, or what some like to call palpitations, can be the precursors to all sorts of cardiovascular issues. Try 15 minutes of meditation or prayer at the beginning of every day. Hey, you can repeat this ritual in the evening as well to alleviate the toils of your day.