When you think of the heart there are so many things that come to mind.
Here is what came to my mind immediately.
- Broken Heart
- Heart Centered
- Open Heart
- Heart Healthy
The heart seems to be the place in the body where love is generated and where its beat helps the blood flow into all parts of the body to feed our organs what they need to keep us alive and going.
The heart is VERY Important to each and everyone of us.
Without it, we are dead.
As a woman, I feel very connected to my heart in so many ways.
I allow my heart to lead me in a lot of my decision making.
I follow my heart because it can lead me to much passion and pleasure in life.
I open my heart to love my family, friends and community.
I have had my heart broken by boys, men, friends, and the death of so many I love, including my son.
I may have reacted in ways that may have seemed heartless to some.
And because I am so connected to the heart, it only made sense to say YES, when asked by the American Heart Association, when they asked me to be one of their nominees for the 2023 Woman of Impact campaign.
Heart health is important to me, and being able to make an impact is too and as a woman of impact nominee, it is my mission to help raise awareness and donations for women’s heart health.
Why would I say YES?
Because heart disease is in my genes. It shows up on both sides of my family tree.
My maternal grandmother had a debilitating stroke that changed her life forever. She lost her mobility, her short term memory and the ability to live independently.
My father had quadruple bypass surgery and died due to complications of heart disease.
My husband had a heart attack at the age of 50 and so no heart disease flows through us to our son as well.
Women’s Heart Health
So let’s talk about heart health because really we don’t talk about it nearly enough.
- Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women?
- Did you know it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined?
One in three women will have cardiovascular disease in their lifetime and many die from heart attacks and strokes.
If those statistics aren’t enough for you, let me share a few more.
Heart disease isn’t just affecting older women.
- Less than 50 percent of women entering pregnancy have a healthy heart.
- Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms and accounts for over one-third of maternal deaths.
- Among females 20 years and older 45% are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
Different and Unequal
Signs of a heart attack are not one size fits all. What a man might experience compared to what a woman might experience can be totally different.
Watch any tv show or movie and most heart attack scenes are of a person (man or woman) clutching their chest and collapsing.
Chest pain is NOT a prominent sign of a heart attack in women.
Women I have talked to have mistakenly thought they had a toothache (jaw pain), a torn rotator cuff (pain in the arm), and the flu when actually all of them were having heart attacks.
And not only do heart attack symptoms present themselves differently in women than men, but women are not even equally represented in health studies and research involving the heart.
Although women make up 51% of the population, a mere 38% are even included in heart research.
Women are often less likely to receive bystander CPR because rescuers often fear accusations of inappropriate touching, sexual assault or injuring the victim. (Just an FYI: every state has “Good Samaritan” laws that offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who they believe to be injured or in peril.) Current research suggests that only 39% of women compared to 45% of men receive CPR from bystanders, which means men have a higher survival rate by almost 25%.
Do you know the causes of heart disease?
Stress, smoking, poor sleep quality, poor nutrition, high blood pressure and cholesterol, can all lead to cardiovascular disease. And the more we move our body, and care for our body by quitting smoking, moving it more, feeding it better and resting it, the more we can reduce our stress levels, our blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Heart disease isn’t just physical
You know what else can lead to poor heart health? Loneliness, grief, and depression. Mental well being is also essential to the health of your heart.
As someone who works with grieving people, this is especially important to me. Grief is a whole body experience and many people who do not properly work through their grief mentally and emotionally are at increased risk for many illnesses physically, including heart disease.
And have you ever heard of broken heart syndrome?
It’s something that’s very real and can be brought on by intense grief.
It’s called stress induced cardiomyopathy and it affects women much more than men.
And unlike the women who reported other symptoms when they had a heart attack, those with broken heart syndrome report intense chest pain.
According to the American Heart Association, Broken Heart syndrome can lead to severe short term muscle failure. But it is usually treatable with most people fully recovering within a few weeks time.
This is why mental well being is a crucial component to a woman’s heart health.
Exercise, sleep and diet are all good for the body, but they are also good for the brain which leads to better mental well being.
But you know what else helps a person’s mental well being? Purpose, community, and connection. Hobbies, rediscovering an old passion, learning something new and being out with other people and creating relationships are all integral parts of heart health.
Self Care is NOT Selfish
This is why holistic self care is so important for women. Taking care of the mind, the body and the spirit is good for overall health, and it is THE way to LOVE yourself to health.
As women, we tend to put everyone we love and care about on our priority list and then it gets so filled, we have no space for ourselves.
Making time, not taking the time, should be something every single woman does for her holistic self care.
Ladies mani’s and pedi’s and massages are great, but this is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about making sure we have created space in our daily calendars to sleep, prepare and eat a decent meal, to move our bodies, and to engage in something we enjoy.
Eating a piece of chocolate, watching the birds at the bird feeder, praying, meditating or turning up the tunes and dancing around the house for one song takes less than 5 minutes. But that five minutes can fill your mental and emotional tank enough to reduce your stress and make you feel so much better.
SELF CARE SATURDAY – Love Yourself to Health
Self Care is so important that part of my mission for this woman of impact campaign is to create an event that allows women to set aside 3 hours on a single Saturday morning so that together we can learn about how to better love ourselves to health.
Consider this your invitation.
Saturday April 1st is the date, members of my Team Inspirationista and I are gathering together to create an amazing women’s event.
It’s called SELF CARE SATURDAY-Love Yourself to Health.
It’s a way for women of all ages to gather together to learn about true self care that in the end is good for your mind, body, soul and of course your heart.
We will have guest speakers who will show you ways to reduce stress and burnout, how to get better sleep, and of course teach you how to best care for your heart.
We’ll have tons of baskets to bid on, healthy snacks to munch on and of course lots of shopping opportunities.
Tickets are just 10 dollars and ALL proceeds will go to the American Heart Associations Women of Impact campaign for research for women’s heart health.
If you would like to pre-register for your ticket go to sherriedunlevy.com/LOVE
If you can’t make the event but would like to make a donation to the American Heart Association simply click here: DONATE HERE