Friday, February 3, 2012

thoughts on heart health & preeclampsia on Go Red for Women Day.

Did you know today is National Go Red for Women Day? I forgot, until I saw something on TV about it over my lunch break at work. It was started by the American Heart Association as a way to bring attention to the high number of women with heart disease. The show on TV was "The Revolution," and they were talking about risk factors for heart disease. One of them guessed it, pre-eclampsia. The doctor on the show mentioned that having pre-e was like a failed stress test for your heart.

I think it was sometime in late 2010 or early 2011 when research came out saying that pre-eclampsia is linked to heart disease risk. From

"Women who have had preeclampsia are at a roughly twofold increased risk of cardiovascular disease in later life, compared with women who did not have preeclampsia," said lead researcher David Williams, a consultant obstetric physician at the Institute for Women's Health at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Obstetric Hospital, University College London. "Specifically, these women have an almost fourfold increased risk of hypertension, and a doubling of the risk of heart disease, stroke, and venous thromboembolism," he added.
I first heard that news story on the Today Show and it hit me - hard. I was 22 when I had pre-e the first time, and I had already been diagnosed as having high cholesterol by then. But I've never topped out past 135 lbs at 5'8"! I didn't LOOK unhealthy. Then at 24, I get pre-e and HELLP syndrome at 29 weeks along in my pregnancy, and after that, it hit me. This was my wake-up call. It was my "girl, you have GOT to get healthy" call. I had to change my ways. And I have chronicled most of that in this blog here. Many things I am doing just in this pregnancy, but before I was pregnant, I had started exercising and had revised my diet - a high protein diet filled with a variety of healthy options and less junk and carbs. I also quit drinking pop - because pop consumption is linked to heart disease, too.

So today, I wanted to post about the link between the two. I had to change my lifestyle or I was just asking for more trouble. And the many things I've done to improve my health will not be stopped when this pregnancy is over, but will continue for the rest of my life. I have to do everything I can, with the increased risks, to live a long, heart-healthy life for myself, and for my kids. And I have to educate my own children about heart health and instill these health values in them as well - particular my daughter - because of my increased risks, she is also at risk of pre-eclampsia & heart disease, just because she had a mom who had pre-e. I feel like I'm doing a small part in raising awareness, at least in my own circle of family and friends, anyways :)

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