The Pop of Red and Issues of the Heart

May 25, 2018

¡Hola! I wanted to try something a little different in this post and incorporate some of my medical knowledge within the usual styling post. As a health professional, I'm passionate about sharing my knowledge with others so as to offer a better understanding of disease processes and what we can do to prevent and/or treat them in ways that anyone can understand. Today I'm going to focus on a very important women's health issue, inspired by the red bag I'm wearing in this post: 
Heart Disease

Now you may be thinking, "María, I'm 25-34 years old. I'm healthy and its going to be a long time before I have to think about these issues." Well, think again. Prevention is the best way to tackle these chronic and sometimes fatal diseases. The earlier we start working towards healthier goals, the better.

Let's start off with some basic facts:
  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among women worldwide .
    • This means that diseases that affect the heart are the leading causes of death and other related disease processes in women.
  • Scientific research in the past decade has identified a set of risk factors for CVD that may be specific to women.
    • There are some risk factors that research has found to be specific for women, therefore these are the risks we should be more mindful of and actively try to diminish.

Traditional risk factors can be categorized into 2 groups: non-modifiable and modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors are, as the name suggests, factors that cannot be modified. The only risk factor specific to women in this category is:
  • Age
    • As women age and enter menopause they lose the cardio-protective effect of estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone which, besides playing an important role in our menstrual cycle, keeps our blood vessels dilated which in turn, keeps the blood flowing.

Although we can't stop aging, there are many modifiable risk factors that we can begin tackling from an early age:
  • Smoking 
    • 13% of women 18 years or older are current smokers in the US.
    • Women who smoke have a 25% greater risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease (when the blood vessels that feed our heart are damaged) than male smokers
      • This means that although your boyfriend/husband also smokes, YOU have a 25% greater chance of developing heart disease than he does!
    • What can YOU do: Ask your doctor for smoking cessation counseling. There are pharmacological options to help you quit smoking. If you don't smoke, avoid environmental tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is also dangerous to your health.

  • Obesity
    • 40.4% of the obese adults aged 20 years or older in the US are women. 
      • This means that women make up 40.4% of adults in the US with a BMI of over 30. 
        • What is BMI? BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
        • Don't know your BMI? You can calculate it by using the formula: BMI= weight (kg)/ height (meters squared). Or you can just insert your details into a BMI calculator. 
    • What can YOU do: Women should maintain or lose weight through appropriate physical activity, caloric intake, and formal behavioral programs to achieve a BMI goal of <25kg/m2 or waist size <35"
      • What is the recommended physical activity? At least 150 min/week of moderate exercise or 75min/week of vigorous exercise and muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days/week
      • Talk to your doctor and/or a nutritionist about the appropriate caloric intake for you because this also depends on your daily activity. 

  • Hypertension
    • Black and Hispanic women have significantly higher hypertension.
    • Although antihypertensive agent trials do not report sex-specific analysis for efficacy or adverse effects profiles, a blood pressure target of <120/80 is generally recommended.
    • What can YOU do: When you are at your doctor's visit, be aware of your blood pressure. If it is over 120/80 twice, talk to your doctor about possible lifestyle changes you can make to keep your blood pressure below that. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and are talking medication, continue to do so as instructed by your doctor. If you are taking your medication as instructed but you have had home blood pressure readings of >120/80, talk to your doctor about possible changes to your medications.

  • Dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of lipids [triglycerides, cholesterol] in your blood)
    • 42% of women 20 years or older have a total cholesterol count of  >200 mg/dl.
    • 30% of women 20 years or older have an LDL count of >130 mg/dl and an HDL count of <40 mg/dl
      • What does this all this mean? Both cholesterol and LDL are lipid molecules that can cause atherosclerosis, a disease in which blood vessels narrow due to the formation of a plaque. 
      • As blood vessels narrow, less blood can flow through them and this leads to areas of your heart/body that do not get the blood they need. 
      • HDL is the "good cholesterol" because it transports cholesterol to the liver where it can be removed by the body so we need more of this type and less of cholesterol and LDL.
    • What can YOU do: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that women were less likely to be prescribed statin therapy than men. Statin therapy is the appropriate treatment if LDL >190 mg/dl. 
      • Talk to your doctor about receiving this treatment or if lifestyle modifications are right for you if you notice your cholesterol/LDL levels are elevated in routine lab work.

  • Diabetes Mellitus (DM)
    • Although DM Type 1 affects women and men equally, women are at twice the risk of fatal and nonfatal vascular events compared to men with DM Type 1.
    • Women are also less likely to have appropriate glycemic control and receive less aggressive treatment for many modifiable coronary artery disease risk factors than men.
We can't catch a break, can we?
    • What can YOU do: If you suffer from DM Type 1, make sure to establish glycemic control by the proper lifestyle/diet modifications as indicated by your doctor/nutritionist. Also, keep an HbA1c goal of <7%.

Let's sum up the actions we as women can take to decrease our risk of developing cardiovascular disease:
  • If you are a current smoker, talk to your doctor for smoking cessation counseling.
  • Avoid environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke).
  • Have a BMI goal of <25km/m2. Achieve this by participating in at least:
    • 150 min/week of moderate exercise or 75min/week of vigorous exercise
    • Muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days/week
  • Talk to your doctor and/or nutritionist about adequate caloric intake.

  • Be aware of your blood pressure at each doctor's visit. You blood pressure goal should be <120/80. If your blood pressure is over this goal at 2 visits, talk to your doctor about possible further evaluation/lifestyle changes/treatment.
  • If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, take your medication as instructed. If you are taking your medication as instructed but still have blood pressure readings of >120/80, talk to your doctor about further evaluation/changes in treatment.
  • If you notice that your cholesterol levels are elevated in routine lab work (e.g. Cholesterol >200 mg/dl, LDL >190 mg/dl), talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes/treatment options.
  • If you suffer from Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, have a goal HbA1c of <7%. If your HbA1c is higher than this, talk to your doctor about your diet and insulin regimen for possible changes. 

Top/Camisa: Zara (similar herehere, and hereSkirt/FaldaForever 21 (limited sizes, check out this midi option and this plus size optionJacket/AbrigoForever 21 Shoes/ZapatosConverse Jewelry/JoyeríaAlex and Ani Bag/CarteraTous (c/o)

As the beginning of my surgery residency approaches, more health posts will also be popping up here on the blog. I want to try to prepare posts that a medical student can learn something from but the general public will also understand. What did you think? Did any of these recommendations resonate with you? Would you like to see more posts like these or should I keep health and style posts separate? Let me know below!

Con amor,
María Eugenia

Find more information about heart disease here and here.

*On matters of health, although I am a doctor in medicine, I am NOT your primary physician. I will always recommend you seek out your primary physician if you have any health concerns for consultation and proper management as indicated by updated guidelines of care. None of my posts replace actual medical guidance. Read my full disclosure here.


The Guide to a Perfect Weekend in Miami: What We Did & What I Wore

May 21, 2018

¡Hola! Last month my husband and I stayed in Miami for a weekend following our cruise through the Caribbean. Our cruise docked in Miami on Friday and our flight back home was set for Monday at around 6pm so that gave us a lot of time to explore Miami. Check out what we were up to below!

First things first we checked into our hotel, the Atton Brickell Miami. We had to disembark our cruise ship at around 9am but check-in time wasn't until 3pm. The people at Atton were incredibly accommodating and held on to our bags until check-in time while we set out to explore Brickell. 

The room was clean, sleek, and modern.

Top: Forever 21 Shorts: American Eagle Shoes: Converse Hat: Forever 21 (similar) Bag + Scarf: Zara Sunglasses: RayBan

We loved the location of our hotel! I had never visited the Brickell area but fell in love with it pretty quickly! There were tons of restaurants and bars and it was pretty close to most of the places we visited. We took the Miami Trolley just for the ride (its free!) and then wandered around.

We felt like some window shopping so we headed to the Brickell City Centre. We were in awe of its open design and architecture.

Lunch at Tacology was delish (but a little expensive if I'm being honest)!

Top: Forever 21 (similar here & here) Jeans: American Eagle Shoes: Steve Madden (similar) Bag: TJ Maxx Scarf: Zara Long Disc Necklace: Alex & Ani
We wasted no time in hitting up the night life! We headed to Wynwood to meet my bestie, Valeria Cid from A PosCIDtive Smile, for dinner at 1-800-Lucky (the soup dumplings were amazing!) and stumbled upon the Wynwood Life Street Festival. That's also where I purchased the coral necklace seen in this post from the sweetheart behind Kala Diseño.

We can't pass up any photo opportunities! This is my bestie, Valeria Cid!

On Saturday we slept in a little before taking an Uber to Little Havana for breakfast and to take in the Cuban culture. We ate at the best little spot, Yisell Bakery, which offered great food for really cheap prices. Just how we like them! 

Domino Park

Check out a complete post on this look here.

Of course we had to take this classic photo on Calle Ocho, the main street at Little Havana. And below you'll see me hunting down a delicious ice cream from Azucar Ice Cream Company.

We then visited the Holocaust Memorial at Miami Beach.

"...Then in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."
-Anne Frank

After fighting back tears, we went through a walk in the Miami Botanical Gardens which is just behind the Holocaust Memorial.

Every corner was picturesque! Afterwards, we walked down to Lincoln Road for lunch and some retail therapy. This road is lined with hundreds of shops and restaurants. There's something for everybody!

After a quick refresh at the hotel, we walked to Havana 1957 for dinner. We basically started and ended the day with Cuban vibes. The mojito was amazing!

We ended the night with drinks at Blackbird Ordinary where I ran into this sweetheart, Ariana Sofia. She's a third year medical student in Miami and she shares her day to day on her instagram @itsarisofia. I love her content, check her out!

We really wanted to brunch this Sunday morning but we found that most places didn't open until after 11:30am and we were too hungry to wait! So we opted for a lovely little breakfast at Brickell Deli & Market which was a short walking distance from the hotel.

After breakfast, we went over to Wynwood once again. This time to shoot some photos and explore the street art.

Check out a complete post on this look here

We even got to more spend time with my bestie and her very talented photographer boyfriend, Kevin Quiles, before a quick refresh at the hotel and taking an Uber over to South beach for lunch.

Dress: Aerie (sold out, check out this cute pink overall instead!) Shoes: Steve Madden Hat: Forever 21 (similar) Bag/Scarf: Zara Sunglasses: Forever 21

Taking in the Art Deco architecture. 

We were spent so we decided to stay in and order some room service. The Atton Burger was delicious!

We were lucky enough to have a late flight out of Miami so we decided to take advantage of our last day by starting off with an early morning on the rooftop pool at the Atton Brickell Miami.

Check out more about this swimsuit and all the others I wore during the cruise here.

We couldn't leave without having brunch at least once so we walked about a mile to La Boulangerie Boul'mich. I am not kidding you, this was the BEST place we ate at the whole trip!

I had the Croque Madame which was scrumptious and my husband had an omelet with feta cheese, olives, and tomatoes which he also loved. We obviously ordered a side of pancakes with Nutella too!

We then took the trolley (did I mention its FREE!) over to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. You guys, this place is STUNNING. We splurged for the tour (an extra $5/person) and it was worth every penny. Our guide gave us a detailed tour of the first floor of the winter home built by James Deering in the 1910s. This dude was the definition of extra. It was probably my favorite place we visited.

Check out a complete post on this look here.

We couldn't leave without a toast to this and many more adventures to come!

I hope you enjoyed a look into our weekend in Miami! 
I've summed it all up for you in the image below which you can pin to your travel board on Pinterest for future reference!

Was there any place we missed that you feel we should hit up next time? Let me know below!

Con amor,
María Eugenia

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