What World Heart Day Means to Me

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The purpose of World Heart Day

The purpose of World Heart Day is to raise awareness, but it is also a request for a promise:

  • Eat heart-healthier food,
  • Exercise more, and
  • Stop smoking.

World Heart Day and Women

But today, in 2018, we have a bigger problem than the need for better self-care. We can’t tell the story of World Heart Day without telling the story of women, and the institutionalized disregard for the self-care efforts of women that has finally been coming into the public consciousness.

Medical attention is not happening the way it should

We know that heart disease is one of the chronic diseases of our modern world that is most easily resolved through lifestyle changes and prompt thorough medical attention, but the reality is that while women are largely striving to accomplish those lifestyle changes, the medical attention is not happening the way it should. This is the reality, and World Heart Day is the day to say it loudly and clearly.

Women, this is for you.

The simple fact is that doctors need to do more than continue to encourage women to take care of themselves and their hearts. We need to address the gender bias that has persisted in the medical profession.

  1. Women are more often delayed life-saving treatment when they enter the hospital
  2. Women have worse outcomes if treated by a male doctor as opposed to a female doctor.

We should be infuriated

More women are dying of heart disease more than all cancers combined, and I believe this should infuriate us all! No one can change the scenario alone, but when women come together for a cause, they have tremendous power.

A call to action

Here are some ways that you can help yourself and then help others:

  1. What you eat is critical. Across the world, the issue is not only about which foods to eat but access to healthy foods. If you have enough access, can you help those who don’t?
  2. Our world has become increasingly sedentary with more people sliding into overweight and obesity. We all need to commit to exercise and moving as a daily part of our lives. If you already do this, can you help others get active?
  3. With better diets and more movement, many risk factors for heart disease are likely to be drastically reduced, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Can you let others know?

My message to doctors

After that, it’s up to us doctors to take the torch. Doctors, that means you! My overriding message here is to be loud, be vocal, and be an advocate for yourself and for all the women of the world.

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The Doctor Weighs In

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