• Michelle Martin

Your Tell-Tale Heart


February is Heart Health month, African American History Month, a time to reflect on love, and to hunker down with family during winter snowstorms. And it’s a short one at that.


So how do we stay healthy, keep celebrating and learning about our diverse history, keep the fires burning in our hearts and our homes?



First things first. Let's focus on our health, so that we can be there for our families and friends for many years to come.


We all know the usual markers for heart disease; high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity for both men and women.


And for women, there are other factors that are specific to our gender for increase risk of coronary artery disease.

  • Women who smoke are also at greater risk than men who do.

  • Inactive women are more at risk as well. Now we know why sitting is considered the “new smoking”.

  • Mental health, especially depression and stress-related issues affect women more then men and therefore impact their heart health too.

  • Sure, drinking red wine has been touted as good for your health but consuming too much is detrimental to your overall health, including expanding your waistline.

  • Pregnancy-related diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing long=term diabetes and coronary heart disease in your lifetime.

  • Inflammatory diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis also cause increased risk of heart disease.

  • Specific to menopausal women is the loss of estrogen, which increases the risk of developing coronary microvascular disease, which affects the smaller blood vessels.

  • And lastly there is a condition called takosubo cardiomyopathy or “broken heart” syndrome, which is a temporary heart condition brought on by an intense emotional event. The heightened stress creates a change in the shape of the heart’s left ventricle, making it difficult to pump efficiently. It can be brought on by the death of a loved one, serious illness or an intense argument. So keep those stress levels down, ladies.

Do you know the signs?

Women may get chest pains just like men but can also experience these symptoms of heart disease:

  • Lightheadedness

  • Unusual fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain in one or both arms

  • Vomiting or nausea

  • Sweating

  • Pain in jaw, neck, shoulder, upper back or abdomen

For women, unrelenting stress can reduce your lifespan anywhere from 3-5 years and chronic stress can age you dramatically. Take steps this month to start incorporating some healthy choices in your life, if you aren’t already, such as walking, eating more greens, less sugars, and of course, reducing or better managing your stress. And schedule a (n overdue?) checkup too.


It can be overwhelming, and if you need some help getting started, my premiere 21-day healthy jumpstart, G.R.I.T. (Get Ready, It’s Time) kicks off next Sunday, February 14. Or if you are curious about how health coaching could help you, please contact me for a free consultation. Peace.

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