Heart Month Comes With Warnings

Lilly Rocha
Lilly Rocha

Lilly Rocha of Pasadena was 37 and at the height of her career when, one morning, she awoke with pain in her arm, jaw and chest. Despite her discomfort, Lilly went to work because “I didn’t have a clue what was going on,” she said.
When a co-worker suggested she could be having a heart attack and should go to a hospital, she didn’t believe him. A heart attack survivor himself, he didn’t take no for an answer and drove her to the ER.
Lilly knew her grandfather died of a heart attack, but she did not realize it happened when he was 37 —the same age she had her heart attack. She also learned that nearly everyone in her mom’s family had heart disease and was struggling with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
In celebration of Heart Month, the American Heart Association urges women to take three actions to improve their heart and brain health.
1. Understand your family history. Find out risk factors that might have affected previous generations in your family and partner with your health care provider to manage and prevent them.
2. Know your numbers. Pay special attention to your total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers, which determine risk for cardiovascular disease.
3. Make simple lifestyle changes. Small steps can make a big difference when it comes to heart and brain health. Taking short walks during lunch breaks or adding more color to your plate are some good habits to incorporate in your daily routine. Here are a few other tips:
“Women need to pay particular attention to their heart and brain health,” said Dr. Azhil “Alex” Durairaj, medical director of cardiovascular services, Huntington Hospital. “Every day, I tell my patients to remember these important actions: Know your numbers and keep it simple. Making small changes in your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in your health.”

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