“Place the mask over your face, oxygen will begin to flow immediately into the mask. Place the mask on yourself first, and then help those around you.” Anyone who’s flown on a commercial passenger airplane has heard the “put on your oxygen mask first” speech. Your stewardess knows if you don’t get the oxygen you need, there’s no way you’ll be able to assist others around you. This old airline approach can be a great teaching tool for women when it comes to heart health.
Women make nearly 80 percent of health care decisions for their families, and are more likely to be the caregivers if a family member falls ill; yet in a Kaiser Women’s Health Survey 23 percent of women report they went without care they needed because they couldn’t find time to see a doctor. Women are notorious for putting aside their own medical needs to take care of work and home. When it comes to heart health, women are also more likely to ignore symptoms like shortness of breath, unexplained extreme fatigue, and upper back pain (all of which are warning signs of a heart attack). The price tag of self-neglect can be costly. One in four women in the U.S. dies from heart disease, but with the right information and action, heart disease can be managed and prevented. Here are three actions you can take this Heart Month to put your ticker in first place.
- Get a doctor’s exam. Ask your physician about a cardiac risk profile screening. These screenings will check for total cholesterol, HDL/LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels. Few hospitals can offer a greater range of services to effectively diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease than the Heart & Vascular Institute at Osceola Regional Medical Center (ORMC). For a physician referral contact ORMC’s Consult-A-Nurse line at (800) 447-8206.
- Be Proactive. You can reduce your risk by managing your blood sugar and blood pressure, lowering your cholesterol, staying active and eating healthy. Osceola Regional’s Online Health Library has resources to help you assess your heart health. You can take the online Cardiovascular Risk Self-Assessment, which determines your risk of developing significant heart disease within the next ten years based on your age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other risk factors. Visit OsceolaRegional.com for full access.
- Have a plan. No one plans to have a heart attack, just like no one plans to be in a house fire. Yet it’s always good to be prepared if an unfavorable situation arises. Central Florida women can take comfort in the fact that one of the nation’s best hospitals for cardiovascular care is right in their backyard. The Heart & Vascular Institute’s star-rated for Excellence in Cardiac Surgery has placed it in the nation’s top 13 percent. As the only Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI in Osceola County, the Institute is consistently beating the national STEMI benchmark of 90 minutes, dramatically improving the lives of heart attack patients. ORMC also offers the latest surgical techniques for vascular and heart surgery. Despite treating some of the most complex heart conditions, the hospital’s cardiac outcomes are among the best in Central Florida.
Once you get cardiovascular disease you’ll always have it, but it’s not a death sentence. There’s much you can do to ensure you’re around for your family and friends, and it all begins with listening to your heart – and in this case, your stewardess. For heart healthy recipes, heart health tips and more information about the Heart & Vascular Institute visit www.OsceolaRegional.com/HerHeart.