Taking Care of the Heart of the Family: Mothers & Heart Disease Prevention

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Mothers are often called the heart of the family. Why is that? I suspect that it is because we love as wide and as deep as the ocean. We provide warmth and steadfastness when things seem to be in chaos.  We keep things running when everything seems to be going off the rails. We make all these comparisons because those are the things that the heart does. The heart is steadfast it keeps everything running when things seem to be going off the rails. And while I know logically that the heart is not the center of all emotions, without it, we could not feel love as deeply as we do.

Yes, I am no longer speaking metaphorically, but am talking literally about that very vital organ that is the center of each woman. 

If we are going to talk about self-care for the heart of the family, then we need to make sure that we are talking about caring for the heart of the mother. According to the American Heart Association heart disease and strokes claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds and those numbers are even more staggering for women of color. That means in the amount of time that it has taken you to read this far heart disease has claimed the life of one woman. The good news is that 80 percent of those cardiac and stroke events can be prevented.

Take a look at these 5 simple heart healthy steps you can take to prevent heart disease and strokes.

Eat the Rainbow

No, I do not mean that silly candy slogan. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily intake is a simple first step to a healthier diet. A great way to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you have in your home is to try to only shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. The more heart healthy options you have in your home the more likely you are to incorporate those into your daily meals. 

Watch the Salt

The CDC reports that most of the sodium we consume is at the hand of processed and restaurant foods. Excess sodium in your diet can increase blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.  t is recommended that we consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. 

Get Active

Any amount of physical activity is better than nothing but aiming for a goal of 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise each week will help to lower risk factors for heart disease. Walk the perimeter of the soccer (or enter any other sporting arena here) field while your child is at practice. During nap time find an online platform to get a workout in at home.I have used Fitness Blender in the past and they are great for a free total body workout. Take advantage of the childcare options at many of our local gyms to entertain your children while you get your sweat on if leaving them at home isn’t an option. 

Take Care Your Whole Person

Stress, depression, anxiety and exhaustion can all negatively impact your heart health. When you emotionally do not feel your best, you are less likely to make smart food choices, have a desire to be physically active, or properly manage your medical conditions. Take time to evaluate the stressors in your life and determine how to deal with stress.  Treat your mental health the same as you would your physical health seek help from a professional. This isn’t just good for your heart, but for your life!

Don’t Smoke

Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease.  If you don’t smoke don’t start if you do and want help quitting check out the Kansas Tobacco Quitline or call 1-800-Quit-Now. 

Don’t let heart disease or stroke take the heart out of your family take action today to care for your heart. 

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Samantha Jacob
Samantha is a Kansas girl through and through. Born and raised in a rural community near Topeka, KS, she moved to Wichita in 2002 to attend WSU. Obtaining her graduate degree from the Wichita State School of Social Work, she loves her job as a pediatric medical social worker. Samantha calls East Wichita home with her husband, two beautiful children, and dog. Having lived in Wichita for over a decade she has enjoyed rediscovering Wichita through the eyes of her children. When time allows Samantha enjoys spending time with friends, trying new restaurants, and re-watching episodes of the West Wing.