Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 8 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 51 ISTOCKPHOTO By Leslie Pepper A s an entrepreneur, Yewande Austin, 46, was accustomed to a hectic schedule. Days as long as 16 to 18 hours didn't faze her, and she only added to that when she began a master's program in England, necessitating an international flight a few times a year. "My passion for change left little room for self-care," she says. "Somehow everyone else's needs just became more important, and my one regret is that choice almost led to my death." Several years ago, Austin—founder of the Change Rocks Foundation and the Global Institute for Diversity and Change—was about to appear at an event, when she felt tremendous heart palpita- tions. "I wish I could say it was the first time that happened, but it wasn't," she says. Unwilling to disappoint her host, Get Heart Smart Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women—here's how to minimize your risk she convinced herself that the episode would pass. But it only got worse. Ninety minutes later, two strangers called 911. By the time EMTs loaded her into the ambulance, her heart rate had shot up to 230 beats per minute. About an hour after being admitted to the emergency room, the doctor told Aus- tin the news that no one is ever prepared to hear: "Ms. Austin, you've had a heart attack." To say she was shocked is an un- derstatement. She was 39 years old. How could she have a heart attack? Austin's situation is not unique. An estimated 44 million women in the United States are affected by cardiovas- cular disease. Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the cause of death for one in three women, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Yet nearly half of women have no idea that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. African American women are even less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death. "As a society, we characterize heart disease as a man's disease," says Sharonne Hayes, MD, founder of the Women's Heart Clinic and medical director of diversity and inclusion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "So much of the public health efforts have gone to deter- mining the cure for heart disease in men, so the message that many have gotten their whole lives is it's a man's disease," she says. Although many women think of breast cancer as our biggest threat, heart disease is actually more deadly than all forms of cancers combined. You don't have to be destined for heart disease, even if you have high risk factors (see sidebar). You may be able to prevent 80 percent of heart disease and stroke events by making the right lifestyle choices. Here are some important ground rules you should be playing by in your life right now. Butt out. If you smoke, you need to quit. Now. Period. Even if you've smoked for years, your health will improve by stopping. Quit smoking and you can lower your risk of heart disease as much as, or more than, you would if you took aspirin, statins, beta blockers, or ACE inhibitors. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help. Eat right. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons against heart disease. • Keep portion sizes under control. Most of us rely on external cues (how much food remains on our plate) rather than internal ones (how full we feel) to de- cide whether or not to keep eating. • Pile vegetables on your plate. It's almost impossible to eat too much broccoli. Include a wide variety of vegetables, To Your Health DW Life > DW Life >

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