Superheroes & Heart Health for Women

Pamela Ressler

SuperheroesAre you a superhero? If you hesitated, think again:

Are you a family caregiver?

Do you juggle multiple demands at work?

Are you the “go-to” person for planning family activities?

Do you ever pick up the slack for family members or coworkers?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may very well be a superhero. Although we don’t usually think of ourselves as extraordinary in our day-to-day lives, women are particularly susceptible to what I call The Wonder Woman Syndrome –heroically supporting everyone at work and at home except ourselves.

During February, a month filled with images of hearts, the American Heart Association and many workplaces have joined forces to support the health initiative Go Red for Women to raise awareness and to encourage women to learn the facts about the hidden health issue of women’s heart disease.

Did you know?

  • Heart disease is the #1 killer of women over age 20 in the United States.
  • 1 in 3 women die from heart disease compared to 1 in 30 women who die from breast cancer.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died from heart disease annually.

But here’s the good news: over 80% of heart disease risk factors in women are either preventable or treatable.

Award winning actress Elizabeth Banks illustrates the Wonder Woman Syndrome -the woman who juggles it all and certainly doesn’t have time to have “just a little heart attack”- in this humorous and short video:


Here are 3 action items adapted from Go Red for Women that you can do TODAY to become a heart healthy superhero:

1.  Find out your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and BMI numbers.  Make sure you monitor these numbers and discuss with your health care provider.

2.  Substitute ONE fruit or vegetable for ONE processed item each day. Here’s an easy rule of thumb: if it has a bar code on it, it’s processed.

3. Take Five.  Take a 5 minute stress recess. Stress has been shown to increase risk of heart disease by affecting the cardiovascular system. Schedule 5 minutes on your calendar to remove yourself from your routine. Relax your body and mind -focus on your breath.

Be extraordinary. Take good care of yourself.

Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, MS-HN-BC, is the founder of Stress Resources and  a senior wellness consultant with Comprehensive EAP.  You can follow Pam on Twitter @pamressler or @stressresources

UPDATE (2/11/14): 

In January of 2014, Pamela was interviewed by Colleen Smith for the local Lexington talk show, LexGo, to discuss women’s heart disease. The segment than aired in February which is American Heart Month. The heart health segment begins around the 29:15 mark and lasts approximately 6 minutes.