Four simple ways women can lower risk of Heart Disease
Written by Aimee Shunney
Did you know that for the past 20 years, heart disease in the U.S. has killed more women annually than men?
Why are women at a higher risk of dying from heart attack and stroke?
And what can women do to effectively fight back against the nation’s number one killer?
“There are four keys for lowering risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack, says women’s health expert Dr. Aimée Shunney:
- Get on an anti-inflammatory diet
- Increase your amount of exercise
- Maintain a proper weight
- Lower your stress level
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
“Chronic inflammation is a major contributing factor to heart disease, therefore we want to decrease foods we’re allergic to or sensitive to,” says Dr. Shunney. “Some of the major inflammatory foods are caffeine, alcohol, food additives, refined sugar, refined flour, corn, soy, gluten, dairy and eggs.” Dr. Shunney says an anti-inflammatory diet would also include foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, like fatty fish, flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts as well as plenty of monounsaturated fatty acids from olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado. Fish oil supplements also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for the circulatory system.
“Also make sure you are eating good quality lean protein,” says Dr. Shunney. “Too much red meat can be inflammatory, so focus on vegetarian sources of protein like nuts and seeds and fish, plus lean chicken and turkey. You also want complex carbohydrates including whole, non-gluten grains like millet and buckwheat. You’ll also want plenty of fruits and vegetables to give you vitamins and minerals. Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties, as does a little bit of chocolate, red wine and even beer (the hops in beer has profound anti-inflammatory properties). Fermented foods have good bacteria that help with digestion, and good digestion means low inflammation.”
Be physically active every day
Dr. Shunney says research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days of the week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. But something is better than nothing, so if you're doing nothing now, start out slow. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
Find your healthy weight
“Excess weight increases the heart's work,” says Dr. Shunney. “It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can make diabetes more likely to develop, too. Losing as few as 10 pounds can lower your heart disease risk. Check out the Body Mass Index calculator at the American Heart Association’s Web site (www.what-is-my-bmi.info) Your BMI is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height and is a good indicator of whether you're at a healthy or unhealthy weight. A BMI of less than 25 and more than 18.5 indicates a healthy weight.”
“The emotional qualities that we experience when we are stressed out will increase our C-reactive protein levels in the blood,” says Dr. Shunney. “C-reactive protein is the best anti-inflammatory marker that we know. Emotions like anger, hostility, shame, depression actually increase inflammatory markers in the body. Being under stress also makes it harder for the body to turn off an acute stress response, which leads to chronic inflammation and increased risk for cardiovascular events.”
Dr. Shunney says stress also triggers a tendency to make poor food choices, which leads to increased inflammation as well. “This is why it’s important to have anti-stress activities as part of your anti-inflammatory/cardiovascular health regimen. That activity could be different for everyone, from meditation, to gardening, to just relaxing and socializing with friends,” says Dr. Shunney.
Sample Interview Questions
1. What role does chronic inflammation play in the development of heart disease?
2. What factors could explain why more women than men die each year from heart disease?
3. What foods reduce inflammation and therefor risk of heart disease?
4. How does stress create circulatory and heart problems?
5. How much of a factor is excess weight in developing heart problems?
6. What things can listeners easily do today and this week to dramatically lower their risk of heart disease?
7. Where can listeners learn more about lowering their risk of heart disease with fish oil supplements?
About Dr. Aimée Shunney
Dr. Aimée Shunney, spokesperson for Nordic Naturals, is a Naturopathic Physician in private practice in Santa Cruz, CA where she blends conventional medical diagnosis and treatment with the use of natural therapeutics. Dr. Shunney specializes in women's health, functional endocrinology, and family medicine.
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.