Women’s Heart Health, Part 3: Tips for Talking to your Doctor | SBM – Society of Behavioral Medicine

Alyssa Vela, PhD; Assistant Professor of Surgery & Psychiatry, Northwestern MedicineAllison Carroll, PhD; Research Associate, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Most women understand that their heart health is important. Yet, unlike for men, womens heart health is talked about far less. As you read in Womens Heart Health Part 1, womens risk for heart disease changes throughout the lifespan, particularly during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. However, women of any age can benefit from practicing basic health behaviors, such as those outlined in Womens Heart Health Part 2.

One of the biggest challenges women face is how to talk to their doctor about their heart health. This article will outline some of the topics you might bring up to your doctor, as well as specific questions to ask, and provide some general tips.

Your personal characteristics, such as age, race/ethnicity, weight, and family medical history, can all affect your heart health and disease.

Health behaviors, such as smoking, diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and taking your medications, all play a role in your heart health and risk for heart disease.

Your primary doctor often doesnt have the time or expertise to address everything during your appointments. Suggesting or requesting a referral to another provider can help you address your concerns, prevent and manage symptoms, and improve your overall quality of life. You might request a referral for:

Each person is the expert of their own body and experiences you are the only one who has been to every single one of your medical appointments! You can use that expertise to engage in helpful and productive discussions with your doctor and to be your own healthcare advocate.

Women have the power to take prevention into their own hands, whether that means preventing heart disease entirely, or treating problems or complications due to heart disease. Understanding your heart health throughout the lifespan, focusing on good health behaviors such as diet, exercise, stress, and sleep, and engaging in your own care can set you up to meet your goals and have good quality of life.

American Heart Association (AHA): https://www.heart.org

AHA Go Red for Women: https://www.goredforwomen.org

AHA Menopause and Heart Disease: heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/menopause-and-heart-disease

AHA High Blood Pressure and Women: heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer/high-blood-pressure-and-women

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Women's Heart Health, Part 3: Tips for Talking to your Doctor | SBM - Society of Behavioral Medicine

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