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.
Jvion launches AI-powered map to tackle mental health crisis
Clinical AI company Jvion has launched an interactive map of the US that highlights areas that are most vulnerable to poor mental health.
The Behavioral Health Vulnerability Map uses Jvion's AI CORE™ software to analyse public data on social determinants of health (SDOH) and determine the vulnerability of every US Census block group.
Vulnerability refers to the likelihood that residents will experience issues like self-harm, suicide attempts or overdoses. The map also identifies the most influential social determinants in each region, to show the social and environmental conditions that contribute to mental illness.
As an example, the map shows that Harrison County in Mississippi has a 50% higher suicide rate than the rest of the state. It also shows a high percentage of individuals in the armed forces at a time when active duty suicides are at a six-year high, along with a high prevalence of coronary artery disease, arthritis, and COPD, all chronic illnesses that are linked to a higher suicide risk.
The map also shows Harrison County has a high percentage of Vietnamese Americans, who studies suggest have high rates of depression and may be less likely to seek help from mental health professionals.
The map was built using the same data and analytics that Jvion used to create the COVID Community Vulnerability Map, which was launched towards the start of the pandemic.
With this new map, Jvion is aiming to tackle the growing mental health crisis in the US. “At a time when so many Americans are struggling with their mental health, we’re proud to offer a tool that can help direct treatment resources to the communities that need it most,” said Dr John Showalter, MD, Jvion’s chief product officer, who led the development of the map.
“For too long, the healthcare industry has struggled to address social determinants of health, particularly in the context of behavioural health. Our hope is that by surfacing the social and environmental vulnerabilities of America’s communities, we can better coordinate our response to the underlying conditions that impact the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.”