Know Your Numbers — The Best Way to Stay Heart Healthy
My family (both sides) has a terrible heart history. A majority of my family members have died from stroke and heart attack. It’s something that honestly, I have never paid attention to even though I have known it will be a problem I encounter in the future.
I know I’m not alone in that. Once we become parents our focus becomes primairly on day to day activities and events. Making sure our kids have what they need, planning vacations, working on homework. Heart health is not something I think about daily.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jenna Hallquist BSN, RN – the Neuroscience Manager from St. Mary’s Medical Center to talk about my family heart history and go through a quick Stroke Screening with her.
The name is way more intense than what it actually is. You can see some of the questions we reviewed together (above picture). I must admit some of the questions she was asking I couldn’t answer, and I should be able to. It’s something that I know I need to pay more attention to. I’m sure if any mom was asked, we could tell you our weight numbers. It’s something that we are hyper focused on as we work on our health. But more importantly we should be focused on our blood pressure numbers and cholesterol.
I was slightly embarrassed I didn’t know mine. Couldn’t even begin to take a guess.
Jenna was also kind enough to answer a few questions about stroke while I was there.
How can busy moms and parents be aware of the signs of a stroke?
It is quick and easy to identify signs and symptoms of stroke if you remember BEFAST! And Call 911. (see above image)
E – Eyes
F – Face
As she was going over these, I honestly thought I had experienced all of these with the classic cloudy mom brain. Too much multitasking and memory loss. But the difference is huge. This would be something immediately noticeable. Not some one losing their keys, but having absolutely no idea where they are. Think of a dramatic change.
I will say, moms are the worst about putting off doctors appointments for themselves until it is the last minute. When it comes to strokes time matters. If something looks wrong or feels wrong, don’t wait.
What age or factors increase the risk of strokes?
Anyone at any age can experience a stroke. People older than 65 years are at the highest risk of stroke.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, Smoking, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are some of the risk factors you can control as you age to reduce risk.
Moms of child baring age are at higher risk for stroke if they smoke, take birth control and even higher if they smoke and take birth control. Sedentary lifestyles put you at risk too.
If my family has a history of strokes… what are the chances I might have one?
Your chances increase if you have a family history of stroke. If you have family history of stroke you should be diligent about diet, exercise and blood pressure control.
Because with me, I need to know my next steps. Simple ways to make changes that aren’t going to put too much strain on my mom brain.
I’m also hoping these will become the norm for my boys too.
- Limit my cheese (heartbreaking but doable)
- Know my blood pressure numbers – I’ll make sure to check every time I go to the grocery store.
- Alternate my caffeinated drinks with water. Hopefully this will help me cut back.
- More fresh fruits and veggies to meals — with the kids too. (maybe explore local farmers markets for this)
- Be brave with the foods we eat. Break out of the routine and try at least one new meal/ healthy choice each week.
Here are the ones I am working toward. Once these become routine, I can incorporate a few more.
I am also going to find my cholesterol numbers from the last time they were checked, and should probably just make an appointment to get updated numbers. The most important thing I can do for myself and my family right now is to KNOW MY NUMBERS. This is the number one way I can make sure I keep my heart in good working order for myself and my family.
For more information on how you can stay heart healthy, book a stroke screening or more ways to stay healthy please visit St. Mary’s Medical Center.