Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although African-American women are at a greater risk of dying from the disease than any other ethnic group, they are least likely to know the risk factors. The first step in prevention is getting informed about a disease that’s expected to cost the nation approximately $800 billion a year by 2030, according to the American Heart Association.
Rhonda Medows, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of United Healthcare’s government programs shares her heart healthy tips with BlackEnterprise.com. Dr. Medows breaks down her “Dress for Success” formula and how it equals a longer, robust life.
Dr. Medows encourages women to be mindful of what they consume. Instead of opting for unhealthy fats (i.e. saturated and trans fats) and cholesterol found in household goods such as margarine and butter, salad dressings and whole-milk infuse healthier options like olive or Canola oil and low-fat milk into your daily meal regimen. “It doesn’t mean you have to give it [fats] up completely; the trick is moderation and reducing the volume.” Add whole grains into the mix to regulate your heart health and blood pressure. Stick with the daily recommended amount of water—eight or nine cups— and fruits and vegetables—five being the target.
(R)eview and Record
It’s important that you know your status when it comes to glucose or sugar screenings, cholesterol and body mass index. A normal glucose screening should be less than 100 mg/dL fasting. LDL cholesterol is a huge risk factor for heart disease and is linked to artery blockages that, in turn, contribute to heart attacks. That rate should be below 100 mg/dL and for HDL—good cholesterol—no greater than 60 mg/dL. A desirable total cholesterol count is below 200 mg/dL.
When it comes to body mass index, your BMI should be less than 25. Anything above 25 is considered overweight; everything above 30 is deemed obese.
The daily recommendation is 30 minutes. Dr. Medows recognizes this may be difficult for the working woman; however, breaking it up according to your schedule is the trick. She suggests maximizing your lunch hour by taking a walk, using the stairs or even parking your car further away from your job.
Focus on the greater gain. “It’s not easy, but it’s well worth the investment,” says Medows. Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease. Even if you don’t smoke, second-hand smoke increases your chances of getting heart disease as well as a stroke, lung cancer, and lung disease, to name a few.
After a long workday, the demands of child rearing or your significant other, your health might be the last thing on your mind. However, be sure to invest in it. If you have a concern, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare professional. Although some health professionals are not as forthcoming with information, don’t let that stop you from getting the answers you need. Try rephrasing your question:“Doctor, is it possible that I have [BLANK], because I also know that I [BLANK] conditions?”