I went for my scheduled pap smear last week. It had been a couple of years since my last one and I knew I was due. This morning, like every Monday morning, I gave my boobs a good squeeze and pat-down too.
My boobs are lumpy but there was nothing of any concern – except that they’re floppy these days. Breastfeeding a couple of brats will do that to them and, of course, age.
I know I have to keep on top of these female maintenance issues. Just as I know that the best defence against breast and cervical cancer is prevention and the best way to prevent anything is to understand its causes, symptoms and screening processes. I know all this because I’m told. Regularly. Passionately.
But you know what I HAVEN’T been screened for? My heart health. I’m a 43 year old, relatively healthy woman. I’m carrying a little bit of extra weight but I can walk my kids to school without breaking a sweat. I’m not a smoker and I don’t drink THAT much. Why would someone like me have to have their heart health checked?
Because heart disease claims 24 female lives every day
I beg your pardon?
It’s true. Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in Australia and kills THREE TIMES MORE women than breast cancer. Women who look, perform and feel healthy. Women just like me are dying of heart attacks every two hours.
EVERY. TWO. HOURS.
Honestly? I’m in shock. I had NO IDEA that this is a health issue that I need to be concerned about and after chatting with my mates – I know the same is true for them. Yet 90% of Australian women have at least one risk factor of heart disease and over half have two or more.
I seriously find it hard to read those stats and I’m a bit appalled that it’s not a more common conversation. Our hearts matter ladies. Our mum’s hearts matter too. Which is why we have partnered with the Heart Foundation to call on all South Australian women, AND their mums, to visit their GP to get a Heart Health Check this May.
When I heard that I should have a Heart Health Check I was completely confused and a little bit apprehensive. I immediately pictured a scene from Grey’s Anatomy where I’m hooked up to some monitor and someone’s standing by with those electronic paddles.
It DOES sound involved and scary and intrusive doesn’t it? So I asked – What the hell is a heart health check and how come nobody has ever told me that I needed one before?
A heart health check is done by your GP and usually takes about 15 minutes. Your doctor will speak to you about any symptoms of heart disease, family history, smoking, weight, diet and how physically active you are.
It’s important to know your numbers. Not your phone number or your weight but your blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference.
Ok so I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and lowering it will reduce that risk. The guidelines recommend your blood pressure be consistently lower than 140 over 90 millimetres of mercury (whatever that means).
We’ve also often heard the connection between high cholesterol and heart disease but whilst most people (not me) think levels of 5 or more are not too bad, the evidence suggests that your cholesterol level should be less than 4 with your bad cholesterol at 2.5 or even lower if you have other risk factors of heart disease.
Ummm… don’t shoot the messenger but your waist circumference should be less than 80cm and for men, less than 94cm.
Here’s the thing. I have absolutely no idea what my blood pressure is or my cholesterol levels or my waist circumference. That is the truth. I hear people saying “oh did you know my BP is bla bla over bla bla? I’ve got the resting rate of a gazelle” To which they are met with a blank, bored and probably disinterested stare. I know there are good fats and bad fats but I never translate them to cholesterol and I know that I’ve recently progressed from a size 8 waist to a size 10, except that I wear hipsters so none of my clothes actually have a waist so who knows what that circumference is?
Which is WHY I’m booking in with my GP this week. I’m probably in the 90% of women who have at least one, if not two, risk factors of heart disease and I reckon I’d rather know if that is the case. As I said earlier the best way to prevent anything is to understand its causes, symptoms and screening processes.
Mums hearts matter! With heart disease still the single biggest killer of women in Australia, and in the lead up to Mother’s Day, the Heart Foundation is encouraging your Mum… my Mum and every Mum to get a heart health check at their GP.
And to celebrate South Australian mums and healthy living, The Heart Foundation are giving you the chance to win a trip to Cabarita Ocean Heath Retreat, just outside Byron Bay for you and your mum! The prize includes 5 nights stay with meals, daily programs, spa treatment, wellness consult, water sports and a cooking class and is VALUE AT $6,000!
Simply click here to enter! GOOD LUCK!