As we begin our journey into the topic of women & heart disease, I’d like to set the tone. Those of you who read faithfully, bear with me.
As a new nurse, I was about to discharge one of my 1st patients from a busy med-surg floor. Her MD (a rare one indeed) delivered her post hospital stay instructions himself. This patient, obviously didn’t realize what a gem she had. When I returned to her room, she casually asked me to call him back in. “I think I was sleeping; or something, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention” was her excuse. At least she was honest. Though young and new to the profession, I didn’t lack courage to speak my mind. I told her I would try to reach him. However, I reinforced she is ultimately responsible for her own health. “Just who’s in charge of my care?” she continued. I replied,”you are.”
That experience indeed set the tone for the way I choose to practice. Then as now, I believe no one should know your body better than you. Too often, we put ourselves in the hands of another–MD, nurse, personal trainer, before we are taught to attune to what our bodies are telling us. Each of us have idiosyncrasies–unique ways in which we respond to medications, exercise, as well as circumstances. Do you know what elevates your heart rate? For me, a cup of green tea can do it–albeit mildly. Running around a track in 90 + heat takes little toll on me, but jumping jack squats? I’m fighting back nausea, struggling to keep my stomach contents from making an appearance. These are my idiosyncrasies. Do you know yours?
Most of us realize the correlation between blood pressure, stress, and of course, anger. Just like the co-worker who’s irritable at 9am, but ok by 10, or our realization that the lot is full by 8, but we can still find a parking spot at 7:45, we learn to adapt. We leave 15 minutes early; we avoid grumpy cat till at least 10:15. But what exactly is the cost of that adaptation, if we are talking stress and hypertension? Yes, blood pressure will rise, because your stress level is up. Yet what if stays there?
Before you answer, do you know what your blood pressure is at rest? Your heart rate? Plenty of expensive and inexpensive gadgets around to help you find out.
What’s the point of these questions? To help you become acquainted with what makes you, well, you.
Slowly but surely, healthcare practitioners are discovering there is no “one size fits all” medicine. There never was this mythical standard; only signs & symptoms which are common to certain disease processes. Before we delve into one such process–women & heart disease–inventory is necessary.
SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT
How many days a week do you exercise? How long do you spend doing it? What type of exercise do you do? Do you become short of breath easily, even after a mild workout?
Do you take medication? If so, for what? How long have you been on it? When’s the last time it has been re-evaluated? If you have started an exercise program, has your medication required adjustment? Is your healthcare practitioner aware of your program?
What is your resting heart rate? Blood pressure? Do you know?
Have you been told to lose weight? If so, by whom? (Facebook “what’s your excuse” fit mom and air brushed media images don’t count) Why were you told to lose weight?
These are just a few questions for which you should have an answer, before beginning a fitness routine. They are part of my questionnaire, prior to taking new clients.
They should also be part of your knowledge base. Risk factors, healthy living, and wellness are only terms–terms which are meaningless unless you know who you are, before deciding what you want to become.
Next post–Risk Factors. More importantly, what you can do about them.
Questions? Comments? Contact me at email@example.com