Get Heart Healthy in 2017

Take Charge of Your Heart Health

When it comes to women’s health, it’s a fact that breast cancer gets far more attention than heart disease. Yet, five times as many women die from heart disease as breast cancer each year. Because heart disease has historically been considered a “man’s disease,” many women lack an awareness of their potential risk.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, kills approximately 500,000 women in the United States each year. This number exceeds the next seven causes of death combined, including all cancers. Although these statistics are alarming, there is some good news, too. The death rate from heart disease has decreased by 30 percent in the United States since 1998. This drop is due in large part to greater awareness and healthcare providers’ increasing focus on cardiac screening as part of primary care for women.

What Can You Do?

Although 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease, 80 percent of current cases are preventable. There are many ways you can lower your risk. And, by doing so, you can improve your overall health and feel great, too! The following are a few simple strategies to help you proactively lower your risk of a cardiac event.

Move More

While going to the gym or participating in a regular exercise class is a great way to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke, there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. It can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, dancing or riding your bike. The key is to aim for some amount of physical activity 30 minutes per day.

Manage Your Stress

Heart disease is more common in women who experience chronic stress. Although it’s impossible to remove all sources of daily stress, there are ways to manage your stress, including limiting exposure to triggers that bring on stressful feelings. For example, if you’re feeling short on time, you may want to re-prioritize your schedule. Seeking the support of a trusted friend, family member or counselor can provide comfort if you’re anxious about a relationship or situation. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing your perspective to better cope with daily stressful events.

In addition, there are good ways to relieve your stress. Exercise and yoga are natural remedies for anxiety and stress that release powerful endorphins in the brain which reduce pain and lift your mood. Making time to connect with people around you and spending time outside can also offer significant mood-boosting benefits.

Find the Right Doctor

Your primary healthcare provider should be someone you trust and can talk to without embarrassment or anxiety. When it comes to your heart, your doctor can be a primary source of information and support to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect your health.

“I recommend choosing a doctor who you can relate to like a trusted confidant or friend,” says Dr. Stacey Rosen, Vice President, Women’s Health, Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “By developing a rapport, you can gain the insights and motivation you need to lower your risk of developing heart disease.”

Know your Numbers

Hypertension, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar are all easy to diagnose but can often get overlooked in women who don’t obtain regular checkups. Learning your numbers is the first step in controlling heart disease before symptoms develop.

Do you want to learn more about women’s heart health prevention? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

What You Need to Know about Migraines Now

What You Need to Know about Migraines Now

If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know it’s much more than just a garden variety headache. The classic migraine can be a throbbing, pulsating, one-sided headache that worsens with activity. There are also other common symptoms, including light and sound sensitivity, nausea, vision changes and vomiting. Approximately 20 percent of migraine sufferers also experience an aura, which can produce unusual visual changes, as well as tingling, numbness, dizziness and weakness.

Although migraines can produce debilitating symptoms, less than half of all migraine sufferers have been diagnosed. (source: National Headache Foundation) This may be partially due to the myths and stigma about the disease that prevent some from seeking treatment. The reality is migraines are a very real disease that can have a profound impact on quality of life. It may also affect other areas of health and well-being.

In a recent study published in The BMJ, women diagnosed with migraines had an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. The study also concluded that these women are more likely to die from these conditions than those who do not suffer from migraines. It’s likely that these findings will lead to more research to determine if migraine treatment may reduce associated risks for other conditions.

“It’s also important to note that underlying conditions, including high blood pressure and sleep apnea, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, can contribute to chronic headaches,” says Dr. Paul Wright, Chairman, Department of Neurology, North Shore University Hospital. “This highlights the importance of getting a professional diagnosis if you’re experiencing headaches on a regular basis.”

Treatment Options for Migraine Sufferers

While there is still much to learn about the causes of migraine and how it is related to other conditions, many advancements have been made in migraine treatment. In other words, there is no reason to struggle with migraine alone. For many women, today’s acute and preventive therapies, along with headache hygiene can dramatically reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Acute Therapies – Available since the 1990s, Triptans are now commonly prescribed to treat migraine symptoms. These medications can help relieve pain, as well as control symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Preventive Therapies – Currently the most commonly prescribed medications for migraine prevention include:

  • Beta Blockers – Cardiovascular drugs that are also used to treat high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers – High blood pressure medications that can be particularly helpful in preventing migraines with aura.
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants – Used to treat depression, these medications can reduce the frequency of migraines by affecting the level of serotonin and other brain chemicals.
  • Anti-Seizure Medications – Some anti-seizure medications may reduce the frequency of migraines.
  • Botox Injections – This relatively new treatment can reduce the frequency of headaches in chronic migraine sufferers who have 15 or more headaches a month.

Headache Hygiene

While medication can help manage symptoms of migraine and even help prevent them from occurring, lifestyle changes can also be extremely beneficial. This includes developing healthy habits for sleeping, eating, exercise and stress management. Additionally, non-traditional therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, can also help manage symptoms of chronic migraine pain.

“The good news is that there are wonderful treatments for migraine sufferers,” says Dr. Wright. “There is no reason to suffer in silence from this very real condition that can greatly impact daily life.”

Getting Help

If you suffer from migraines, the first step to determine the best treatment options is to track headaches and to identify triggers that contribute to them. There are a variety of apps that can help you manage information pertaining to migraine and recurrent headaches to help make a more accurate diagnosis and to determine the effectiveness of treatment.

“It’s important to keep track of when you experience a migraine and what led up to it,” says Dr. Noah Rosen, director of the Headache Center at Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute. “As well, talk to others in your family about your headaches and find out if those who are related to you have experienced similar symptoms. Most importantly, if your headaches are disrupting your life, get help.”

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about migraines. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.