For all women: heart-care is the new self-care

By Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum | Posted May 15, 2023

On this Mother’s Day, let’s focus on all women—not just those who are clearly defined by having their own children—but all women whose hearts and caring has had an impact on those she has cared for. With the launch of Adesso.Health, we have started to elevate this important concept for every woman with a heart: Heart-care is the the new self-care.

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Let’s remember the selfless nature of motherhood. Let’s remind all women that taking care of herself is not selfish, but rather it is simply self-care. With heart disease being the number one killer of all women, with rates increasing in women less than 55 years old, and 70% of women postmenopausal will have some form of heart disease, let’s truly understand the importance of women taking care of themselves.  

We know that the cornerstones of a heart healthy lifestyle are based on the daily choices of diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. In fact, heart-care is self-care, and focusing on overall wellness is how we will change these statistics. 

Heart-care is the new self-care

Whether you are a mother or are mothering, being a caregiver of someone who needs you and depends on you is the essence of what it means to be a mother. We nurture those whom we other and give our hearts and our souls to those who look to you as being their mother. We relish the role of giving and of caring.  

I love being a mother, with all those attributes that cause us all to forget about ourselves and our needs and who we are. 

When I think about women and the lives of women I know, it is about phases and periods of time. For many of us, there are the early days, eventually followed by the new career days, intermixed with the having baby days, and then the trying to get back to work and juggle phase, only to come back to the days of being a mother with your children gone, with only ourselves to focus on. This cycle is part of a womanhood that so many can relate to, but many don’t fully understand. There is a societal trajectory to it, but there is also a biological and emotional trajectory, that goes hand in hand. 

Hormones decrease as we age, and our heart disease risk increases.

As we age and our hormones decrease, we lose those hormones that biologically make us feel the need for connection and the feeling of being needed. The hormones that make us feel needed and fulfilled start dissipating, and we don’t have that same need to mother in quite the same way.  Biologically, we are allowed to feel more selfish and care more about our own needs. We are allowed to feel more balanced, and we get to feel that relief. This why I say heart-care is the new self-care! When we make take care of ourselves, we protect ourselves from life’s demands and changes. In so doing, we better care for those around us. 

As our estrogen decreases, we lose the protection of our arteries, as our blood pressure goes up, our cholesterol goes up and our weights can increase, especially when we are not looking. We lose the protection of estrogen that can cause the arteries to become stiff, and the microvasculature (tiny arteries in the heart) to become less able to dilate and supply the oxygen to our heart muscle. Sometimes we can feel tired, fatigued or even get odd chest discomfort or shortness of breath with exercise that we never had before. 

To all the mothers out there, in all the different phases of your life…don’t forget yourself in the middle of the caregiving and loving, and worrying, and doing and making and trying and hugging and mothering…. 

Changing the trajectory of heart disease

One in 3 women die of heart disease, 70% don’t know they are sick. 80% of the time there is something you can do about it. It starts when you are young and takes decades to develop. High blood pressure in pregnancy increases the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life by 67% and increases the odds of a stroke by 83%. In this situation, becoming a mother can cause a risk for you later in life. 

  • Know your history, your family history, and the markers that increase your risk, like your cholesterol and blood pressure and sugars, and body mass index.
  • Understand the role of stress and depression and how it affects your heart.
  • If you have symptoms, don’t ignore them. It is your body trying to tell you something.
  • Go to your doctor and get a checkup.

More than anything, know that paying attention is the first step to empowering yourself to do what you can to ensure you never get sick from heart disease. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all those that have given their hearts to the ones they love.

Let me help you protect your heart, to keep it healthy and strong for a really long time. You’re going to need it. You know how it is being a mother. they depend on you. 

We got this.