Updated 1 year, 5 months ago

Cardiovascular Health: is there really a gender bias?

We tend to think of heart health as some distant, looming issue bound to affect the men in our lives as we get older. The truth is cardiovascular disease affects both men and women, and should be consistently addressed throughout our lifetime.

The cardiovascular system is one of the most intricate and stunning pieces of machinery in the modern world. This incredible organ, that is approximately the size of your fist, is solely responsible for the circulation of 5.5 liters of oxygen and nutrient rich blood to our tissues and to each of the roughly 37 trillion cells in our body. As each drop of life- sustaining blood flows around and through our bodies, it also plays an essential role in waste removal from the tissues. This metabolic waste can wreak havoc on our body systems; without its timely removal, the consequences can be devastating.  

Each year, cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more global deaths annually than any other disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The surprising part of this is, according to the same statistics, CVD is amongst the most preventable diseases we have today. With simple behavioral changes, deaths associated with CVD can be drastically reduced. We know smoking is bad for us, we know high fat, high cholesterol diets work against us, and we know that sitting around most of the day is a sure fire way to increase our chances of developing health issues later on in life. So why is something that is by all means relatively easy to avoid our number one nemesis? The answer is seemingly an uncomplicated one:  the average person knows just enough about the importance of the heart and but not how to properly strengthen it.

Despite the great advances in technology that has put a plethora of data at our very fingertips, CVD is still commonly mistaken for a man’s issue. The fact is CVD claims more female victims than all forms of cancer combined according the American Heart Association. So why do most of us still think of this as a non-issue for women? Most cardiovascular research has been conducted on male participates; this has led to greater development and understanding of the male cardiovascular system and any related symptoms he may experience. While both men and women experience similar symptoms associated with cardiovascular issues, data has shown that women tend to feel less-recognizable symptoms than those associated with a cardiovascular episode. This often results in diagnosis of a heart attack to be prolonged until it is too late.  

The good news is that we can take control by maintaining heart healthy habits! See your doctor. You should establish a relationship with your primary health care provider so that you feel comfortable discussing changes that will positively affect your overall health and well-being. Make sure to get your annual check-up so that you and your doctor can stay on top of your blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s important to know where you stand in regards to these measures and what you can do to improve them. Quit Smoking, it’s well known that smoking is bad for you. At the end of the day one cigarette has the power to affect your heart and lungs- It’s not something that you want to mess with. Add color to your plate! Get plenty of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet from fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of ways to spruce up your meals by adding some delicious color. Get that blood flowing. It’s important to maintain exercise as part of your daily routine. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise) along with 2 days per week of moderate to high intensity resistance exercise training.

If you are currently taking any medication for blood pressure or cholesterol, it is imperative that you consult your doctor and attain medical clearance before beginning an exercise program; whether or not you are being supervised by a certified personal trainer. If you do have a personal trainer, make sure that they are properly qualified and their certifications are up to date. Don’t be afraid to ask them their training qualifications and make sure they know of any limitations you may have associated with a metabolic condition. It’s important to know that when you have a metabolic condition, a poorly designed exercise program could do more harm than good.
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