Life-Saving News For Valentine’s Day
Last Friday I observed Go Red For Women Day by wearing red to promote awareness of the risks of heart disease and stroke in women. (You can learn more about Go Red For Women in my Blog Your Heart Out post.) Whether by coincidence or good planning, the Washington Post had this headline on the same day:
According to the Washington Post article, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have issued new guidelines aimed at preventing strokes in women that focus on blood pressure and other risk factors unique to women, such as hormonal birth control drugs, hormone replacement therapy, and gestational diabetes.
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The guidelines also identify migraine headaches with aura as a risk factor for stroke, and suggest that people who experience such migraines (which are more prevalent in women) quit smoking.
This news is pretty scary to me, because it drives home how many risk factors I have.
I have had a Deep Vein Thrombosis, and my main risk factor then (other than the long flight to Australia that triggered it) was my use of birth control pills. I had to stop taking those right away, and have been advised to never use them or take hormone replacement therapy.
While I never was diagnosed with full-blown preeclampsia, I remember my obstetrician being concerned that I was developing preeclampsia towards the end of my first pregnancy. My legs were ridiculously swollen, my blood pressure was rising, and I was put on bed rest.
I used to suffer from “normal” migraines in college, but when my kids were younger, I started experiencing migraines with aura, or just aural migraines (vision distortions with no headache). Luckily those have been few and far between lately, but they are another box I have to check in my risk factor column.
After my DVT, my doctor suggested that I take a daily low-dose aspirin “just in case.” I did that for a while, but got out of the habit. Based on this information from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, I think I should go back to it, to make sure that I am doing everything I can to reduce my risk for stroke.
Did you hear about these new stroke risk factors for women?
Do you take steps to reduce your risks for heart disease and stroke?