This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson. I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way. To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.
Heart disease and stroke kill 10 times as many woman as breast cancer. In fact, they kill more women than all the cancers combined. Heart disease is the number-one killer, and stroke is the third biggest cause of death in women. More women die from heart disease and stroke than men, yet most of us do not realise we are at risk.
Eighty percent of strokes are associated with blockages of the arteries in the neck, and are preventable. Some risks you can’t do much about …
- being over 50
- having a family history of stroke
- being an atrial fibrillation sufferer
But others are lifestyle related …
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- heavy drinking
- not exercising
- taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- being overweight
The Warning signs of stroke …
- sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- sudden severe headache with no known cause
The turning-back-the-clock study
Researchers at Yale University have shown that people who eat well and exercise can substantially reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and death even if they are in their 50s. Consuming at least five fruits and vegetables daily, exercising for at least two and a half hours a week, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can lessen your chances of heart trouble by 35 percent, and your risk of dying by 40 percent. The Yale team was concerned that some people in middle age do not make lifestyle changes because they think the damage is already done. However, the project showed the chances of dying or having a heart attack were reduced by a third after four years of living a healthy lifestyle.
It’s one of the tough things about getting older isn’t it, having to think about these things and be proactive about them? When we were young we were invincible and these serious matters were not of concern. When we reach our 50’s and beyond we can no longer ignore these things … if we want to live long, active and healthy lives!
We have to take time out of our busy lives to plan so that we eat healthy, move our bodies, stop smoking (if we ever started), go for a myriad of health checks, and so on. It’s a pain in the butt! BUT really, if you think about it, it’s worth every inconvenience, in order to 1) be alive!, and 2) be the best and healthiest version of ourselves so that we can enjoy the rest of our lives!
What Pamela says is true. In fact, the Heart Foundation says that women are almost 3 times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer.
Warning signs of a heart attack may not be what you think. They can vary from person to person, and they may not always be sudden or severe. Read the Symptoms of a heart attack as provided by the Heart Foundation, and what to do if you are having a heart attack!
I was interested in the fact that Pamela mentions Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as a risk factor for stroke/heart disease, so investigated a little and the Heart Foundation has this to say about HRT. This paragraph below is in response to the question ‘Does Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) prevent heart disease’:
HRT, which includes oestrogen replacement, has been used for many years to treat short-term menopausal symptoms. In some women, depending on their GP’s advice HRT has also been used after menopause for those with osteoporosis. There has been a lot of research into the effects of HRT on the development of heart disease and based on this research the Heart Foundation does not recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in the treatment or prevention of heart disease. Before commencing HRT women should discuss the risks and benefits of the therapy with their GP.
Here’s some info from the Stroke Foundation on what you can do to help prevent a stroke (includes what to do about certain risk factors (like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation) that you may have and how to make healthy changes as part of your daily life).
The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke. Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:
Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms Can they lift both arms?
Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
So again we get the message loud and clear that we need to:
- Eat healthy
- Move our bodies
- Give up Smoking (read what smoking does to your heart)
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Manage your blood cholesterol (more resources here)
- Manage your blood pressure (more resources here)
- Make time for health checks, particularly if you have any of the risk factors like: high blood pressure, diabetes, family history, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation
So there you go, a bit of a serious post but if we bury our head in the sand we end up being reactive rather than proactive and I know which one is the safer bet!
It’s a pain to be serious, but it’s more serious if you’re in pain!
Ciao for now,
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