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    GO RED for Heart Health

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | January 28th, 2024

    GO RED for Heart Health

    “Why don’t people get it? Why can’t they take their blood pressure medication? Do they know that high blood pressure can kill them?”

    This is how my conversation started with my doctor friend. She was frustrated, and I could feel that frustration. You sometimes wonder whether you are genuinely making a difference.

    I told her, ´Don’t give up; if only one patient listens, you have made a difference”.

    February is American Heart Month. We use this month to raise awareness about heart health.

    • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, and only 56 % of women know this.
    • High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease.
    • Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke and can lead to early death.
    • Black women are nearly 60% more likely to have high blood pressure than White women.

    This Friday is National Wear Red Day. I will be wearing red, and I hope you will join me. We all deserve to live long, healthy lives. In 2020, I blogged about what it meant to GO RED, and it is worth talking about it again.

    To  GO RED1 this Friday means you will do the following:

    G: Get your numbers – We have to know our numbers and understand what it means. I am hoping that everyone has signed up to their patient portal. We all can see our labs. Knowing our blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), hemoglobin A1C, cholesterol, kidney function, and liver is essential. Our kidney and liver functions are in the complete metabolic profile (CMP). With our cholesterol, we want to know our total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL results. Talk to your healthcare provider. If any of the labs are abnormal, determine what needs to be done. We have to be proactive. If any of these results are more than one year old, ask for the labs to be repeated. Knowing and acting on these numbers is how we can prevent or manage heart disease.

    O: Own your lifestyle – No one can force you to do anything. The only thing that we can do is give you advice. You will have to decide to eat healthily, exercise regularly, take your medicine as prescribed, quit smoking, and get enough sleep. This is how we keep our hearts healthy. I can make suggestions on ways to help you through this journey. The start to eating healthy is by adding more fruits and vegetables. You can start by challenging yourself to eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal. You can check out my Instagram @ngozi.osuagwu for suggestions on fruits and vegetables. Decide to stop drinking soda; this includes diet soda. Regarding movement, use only the stairs. Walk far away from the entrance. Use any opportunity to move. Use your smartphone to remind you to take your medication. You can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to quit smoking. You have to decide to tune out to get your 7 – 9 hours of sleep. Stop the excuses, and DO IT.

    R: Realize your risks – There are risks you cannot change and those you can. Being a woman, especially a black woman, having a family history of heart disease or stroke, and getting older (although young people can have heart disease) are risk factors you cannot change. You can ensure your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and diabetes are well controlled. You can quit smoking.

    E: Educate your family and friends – It is never too early and never too late to make changes. If you eat healthy, your children will be eating healthy. Be the person at work volunteering to bring healthy meals like salads or fruits during potlucks. Motivate your family and friends to exercise. I remember a friend wanted to talk; I told her to come to my house wearing her sneakers. We walked 3 miles, and she had my undivided attention.

    D: Don’t be silent – When you are wearing red this Friday, and someone asks you why – I hope you tell them that heart disease is the # 1 killer of women and men and we can all play a role in changing the stats – get your numbers, own your lifestyle, realize your risks and educate other people. Remember to share this blog post.

    American Heart Association believes Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. As champions for health equity, by 2024, the American Heart Association will advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.

    1GO RED, acronym bolded is from The explanation is from Dr. Osuagwu

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    Secure Your Copy of Sincerely, Your Gynecologist by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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