Heart Disease and Women
By Nancy Weshkoff
Heart health is something I take very seriously. And while it is important to focus on heart health all year, the month of February is Heart Health Awareness Month and part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement. I am therefore writing this blog to discuss this very important topic.
Let’s begin with these key factors about heart disease in women:
–Heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in the United States.
–If you stacked up ALL cancer-related deaths for women together (breast, lung, ovarian, liver, skin cancer, etc), all of these cancer-related deaths together would still be number two behind heart disease.
– One in three women in the United States will die every year from heart disease. If you were sitting in a group of women and looked to your right and to your left, sadly one of you will die from heart disease. And of this number, more than 1,800 of these women who die from heart disease will live here on Long Island in New York.
-If you have heart disease, you are at a higher risk of contracting COVID or having serious complications related to COVID. With the spread of coronavirus, it is even more important to pay attention to your heart health.
– Did you know that you can help PREVENT yourself from becoming one of these very sad statistics by proactively taking steps to lower your risk?
While there are some things that you cannot change, such as your family history of heart disease, there are several things that doctors all agree that you CAN do to lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These include:
– Engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis. Sitting on a couch and not moving is bad for you in so many ways. Spending long hours in front of a computer screen without moving is not good for you. Your body needs to move. Yoga is extremely helpful in helping you with your fitness goals. The postures in a yoga class will build strength and flexibility, stretch your muscles, and at the same time, the deep breathing techniques (pranayama) used in a yoga class increase the flow of blood to your heart and your organs.
– Reduce your stress levels. This can be particularly challenging these days where we might find ourselves multi-tasking. It makes it even more important to notice how you cope with stress. Being in a “fight or flight” mode, which is how our body reacts when our stress levels are high, is putting a huge strain on your body functions – including your heart. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help you lower your blood pressure and stress levels. Yoga classes also help you reduce your stress. The online yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga can get you on the path to accomplishing your stress-reduction goals. Perhaps you do not have a lot of spare time right now with multi-tasking due to the pandemic. I would suggest that it is so important to take even 30 minutes FOR YOU which helps lower those stress levels and enables you to better cope with life’s challenges. Moonflower Yoga currently has great online yoga and meditation classes, including 30-minute yoga and meditation classes, which you can do from the comfort of your home to help you lower stress and help your heart health. The Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website lists the daily options taught by our great yoga and meditation teachers.
– Learn to be “in the present moment”. We often worry unnecessarily about things from our past that we cannot change or things in the future that MIGHT happen but have not happened yet and may never happen. In our classes and workshops at Moonflower Yoga, we teach you ways to be more in the present moment and let go of unnecessary worries bringing you more peace and calm.
– Lower your blood pressure: Moving more, decreasing your stress levels, and using tools such as meditation and yoga mentioned above can all help you with this. How about learning something new? Spending some time reading a great book or engaging in a fun activity can help lower your stress levels. We have several great online activities that you can do from home including two fun FREE “Clubs”. In the Moonflower Yoga Book Club, we have fun going on a journey with a new book which helps you discover something new. There is also the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group where you crochet or knit (very meditative!) while enjoying each other’s company. With the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group, we also donate some of our beautiful creations to various charities, including Operation Gratitude which ships our finished creations to our brave men and women in the military. We have online meditation classes, as well as a wonderful monthly Evening of Guided Meditation and Relaxation with Bhante Sujatha, the loving kindness monk, including a Special Valentine’s Day Evening of Guided Meditation and Peacefulness this month. There is also a monthly online yoga nidra evening with Jackie Lee on the last Wednesday of each month, which is deep relaxation “yogic sleep”, a wonderful way to de-stress, which you do while reclining at home. One hour of yoga nidra = four hours of sleep! These types of interesting and meditative activities can help you on the path of stress reduction, lowering your blood pressure, and having fun – all great things for your heart.
– On February 11th, in honor of Hearth Health Awareness Month, Moonflower Yoga also has a wonderful “Natural Support for Heart Health” workshop with author and herbalist, Jovanka Ciares. Jovanka will discuss natural ways to care for your cardiovascular system. Incorporating these ideas into your wellness routine can go a long way in ensuring that your heart stays healthy and strong. Topics to be discussed include the history of modern heart disease, the relationship between stress and the heart, and heart-healthy food options and botanicals. Come join us for this important workshop!
– Fighting loneliness: In this coronavirus period, it is very important to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. But social distancing often creates loneliness. We need social interaction. Online yoga, meditation, and other activities via Zoom are a great way to combat loneliness and help you feel better. Before and after each online class, there is a Zoom Room where you can safely see and chat with fellow attendees, have a laugh, or share a story. It makes a big difference to have this social interaction and help you feel better, thereby reducing your stress levels.
-Are you eating a healthy diet, or are you eating fast food, processed food, or other unhealthy foods that are high in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar? Eating unhealthy foods can clog your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. One fun online activity that we offer at Moonflower Yoga is a monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” cooking workshop where we connect online via Zoom, and we cook healthy meals together during the workshop and then enjoy the finished product together in our respective kitchens at the end of the workshop. These delicious recipes are plant-based, low in fat, and heart healthy. And we have a lot of laughs cooking together – a great stress reducer.
– See your doctor on a regular basis. Your doctor can access your risk of heart disease and offer recommendations on ways to improve your heart health.
As someone who has a history of heart disease in my family, I take heart disease very seriously. My stress levels and blood pressure were very high – all red flags for being on the path to a heart attack or stroke. Through yoga, meditation, learning to be more in the present moment, and spending time in engaging activities such as reading and needle arts, and eating a healthy, plant-based diet, I have been able to lower my blood pressure to normal. You, too, can lower your risk. We hope to see you soon at a great online yoga class, meditation, or workshop at Moonflower Yoga. With online yoga and meditation classes offered via Zoom, there is also no longer a geographic limit to Bellmore, Wantagh, Merrick, East Meadow, Freeport, Seaford, Massapequa, or other towns in Nassau County, Long Island. We now have students joining us from states other than New York including Florida, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. It is great to connect with new people! All are welcome!
Please take care of yourself and reduce your risk of heart disease, or the risk of heart disease for a special woman in your life. I hope we will see you soon for a great online yoga class, meditation, or other activity as you take positive steps to lowering the risk for heart disease!
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