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.






SHOP THE LOOK!


35 comments

  1. Wow!! Now this an educational and informational post. Thanks for educating me. You look casually chic and you surely is a very pretty lady.

    https://www.missymayification.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you found this educational and maybe learned something! Thank you so much for reading!
      x ME

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  2. First, can I talk about how much I love this outfit! The ruffle skirt and Converse is such a good outfit combo, and your red bag the perfect pop of colour.

    Second, I love how you are sharing your advice - it's so true there are many things we can do now that will benefit us later, never too late or early to make healthy choices! :)

    Hope that you have been having a lovely week and you have a great weekend ahead of you! :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

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    Replies
    1. So happy you loved the outfit AND the content on health! Thank you so much for reading!
      x ME

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  3. I've definitely been loving red lately, especially little touches of it paired with anything blue. Such a gorgeous outfit xx

    http://www.flolavita.co.uk/2018/05/the-instagrammers-guide-to-notting-hill.html

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    Replies
    1. Me too! I'm loving pops of red and yellow!
      x ME

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  4. I love your creativity, this blog post has very important information for the women, after reading it i thought i should make some changes regarding my health. Thanks for such valuable information and the bag red is beautiful.

    Maria Liz

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    Replies
    1. It makes me so happy to know that I could reach out to you and possibly inspire some lifestyle change. Thank you so much for reading, bella!
      x ME

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  5. First off I just want to say that your outfit is amazing. The skirt is absolutely gorgeous and I love the pop of red. Second, I think that this post is so informative. I completely agree with you about prevention is so important!

    http://whatmakesmesmileblog.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Happy you loved the outfit and the content! Prevention is really important and small changes in our daily lives can make huge differences later on!
      x ME

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  6. I think it is a great idea combining fashion and health posts. Loved to read what you had to say. And, also, you try to explain medical conditions in an easy way for everyone to understand. Please keep upt the good work!

    E || OH LA LATKES

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It makes me so incredibly happy that you found this useful and easy to understand! I know sometimes these topics can be dense and it was a task to try to explain it in both ways a medical student and the general public could find interesting. I know that I can work hard to make it even better for upcoming posts. Thank you so much for your comment!
      x ME

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  7. Wow I love it that you wrote a post about this very important topic! You linked it to fashion absolutely perfectly. Thanks for sharing this valuable post Maria!
    xx, Carmen - https://carmitive.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment makes me so happy! Thank you, Carmen!
      x ME

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  8. That bag is so pretty and the color is so vibrant
    I love your outfit too

    Much Love,
    Jane | The Bandwagon Chic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It gave the outfit the perfect pop! Thank you!
      x ME

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  9. Firstly, I love this outfit! Ans secondly I loved all the information you put into this post. Especially since my dad had a heart attack, I have to be especially careful since there is a higher chance for me to have one in the future. Thank you so much for writing this!!

    - Avalon from simplyavalon.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful! Family history is a strong predictor of your own health so I'm glad to see that you are taking steps towards prevention!
      x ME

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  10. Love your outfit, plus a big yes to all the info in this post, you literally do it all Maria!
    P xx
    www.phoebemw.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw shucks! Thank you so much! So happy you enjoyed it!
      x ME

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  11. I love the cute logo tee and your feminine ruffled skirt!
    Have a nice day!

    www.fashionradi.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a sucker for white logo tees! Thank you!
      x ME

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  12. Designer Bags, Purses, Handbags, Wallets, Belt & Accessories Official Site http://www.bagcowhideart.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's such a cute bag dear. Love your choice of colors on your outfit too, the blue denim really gives the vibrant rent more pop!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  14. This is such an informative article!! I normally to my blood exams twice a year. I prefer to keep everything under control! x
    www.bonjourchiara.com

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    Replies
    1. So happy to hear that! We doctors love our compliant patients! haha Thank you for reading!
      x ME

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  15. This is very useful and significant, we sometimes forget that healthy lifestyle is best to start early. Love your look and that bag is really pretty.

    www.busyandfab.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is very true! The sooner we start making healthy lifestyle choices, the better! Thank you!
      x ME

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  16. Love this whole style especially your bag :)http://www.bauchlefashion.com/2018/06/top-5-most-underrated-designer-handbags.html

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  17. Nice photos. Your bag is looking awesome.
    http://alodrivingschool.com/

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  18. Maria you are so gorgeous!!! Loving this red bag and your outfit!
    x Rubina
    Pose & Repeat

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great collection. Loving this red bag and your outfit!
    http://webtechsoft.com/

    ReplyDelete

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