Full disclosure: my daughter, Sarah Raider-Wexler, is a sophomore at IU, and as VP of Marketing for her sorority, she is in charge of the chapter’s two philanthropic projects. I have no financial ties to pharmaceutical or cardiac treatment device companies. I do not prescribe medications for cardiac medical issues, although I do continue them when patients are admitted to my care in the hospital.
I am very proud my daughter. It was a beautiful event. Everywhere I looked, there were smiling pairs of mothers and daughters in their red dresses. And, this year they raised several thousand dollars more than last year.
When Sarah asked me if I would be the physician speaker, she said, “Mom, heart disease can be pretty grim: it’s the number one killer of women. So, give them some tips, but please, keep it light.”
Women’s cardiac health is near and dear to my heart not only because I am a physician but because both my parents have heart disease. My father survived a heart attack and my mother survived open heart surgery.
I have learned people are much more likely to engage in healthy behavior if it is fun!
A fun-filled day of cardiac health:
Wake up and take a few deep cleansing breaths while you’re still in bed. Deep breathing decreases blood pressure. Let’s try one right now.
When you get to the bathroom, read the post it note you left on your mirror last night telling you something wonderful about yourself. If all it says is “you’re awesome!” That’s enough.
Then, as you sit on the toilet with your phone in your hand, and I know there are people in this room who do that, read a joke or look at a funny video.
Laughter really is the best medicine. A 2006 study in Maryland showed that laughing 15 minutes a day dilates your vessels 22 percent. This lowers your blood pressure, and putts less strain on your heart.
Now it’s time to crank up your favorite dance song, or two. Something with a beat, and start dancing. Dancing improves heart health. Listening to rhythmic music 30 minutes a day lowers blood pressure and heart rate. I recommend Grenade by Bruno Mars.
Played 10 times in a row.
When you get to work, hug your boss.
Hugs save lives.A study in North Carolina showed that hugs reduce heart disease, and women benefit more than men. And it doesn’t matter if the person is close to you or a casual acquaintance. You still get the benefit. So hug someone every day, several times a day.
If you have to sit for your job, get up and walk around at least once an hour. I take a big container of water and take a huge drink right when I get to work. An hour later, I go to a bathroom far away from the clinic. Fewer people use it, which means fewer germs. And, more movement.
While you’re in the bathroom, think about your beautiful body. This beautiful body that brought you here today. Women, we are COMPLICATED! Women don’t have typical symptoms of heart attacks. If you feel anything funny from your jaw to your pelvis, call your doctor.
Walk during lunch. It doesn’t have to be a long walk. Walking 10 minutes a day twice a day every day significantly reduces heart disease.
Middle of the afternoon: time for some more cleansing breaths. Check out your mood. Are you stressed out? Taking those deep breaths will relax you.
If you find you have trouble relaxing, or that your mood is depressed, think about getting help. Untreated depression carries a high risk of a heart attack, especially for women. You have to be happy: you heart depends on it.
Don’t forget to hug people during the day! Do this every day during Womens Heart Month.
After work, treat yourself to some more dancing while you change out of your work clothes, to get rid of the day’s stress. You earned it!
Then, it’s time for a glass of red wine. Studies have shown that ONE daily glass of red wine is good for your heart.
After dinner, treat yourself to some dark chocolate for dessert. Again, you’re doing this for your heart. Chocolate with 65% cacao is the kind that is good for your heart.
Then just before bed, grab that blank post it, and write something awesome about yourself and put it on your bathroom mirror.