You can't trip through February without noticing that heart health organizations everywhere are using the month to raise awareness about women's heart disease. For preeclampsia survivors, this message comes with an important footnote - your pregnancy history matters to your long term health and especially your risk for heart disease. Last year, the American Heart Association updated their guidelines to draw attention to the fact that women with a history of preeclampsia are at higher risk for heart disease, some studies have equated our risk to that of a smoker. You can read more about this research on our Community Forum.
While some of us may shake our fists at the "Evil Preeclampsia Monster," let's instead turn this news into a concrete warning sign to take charge of our heart health, aggressively get our diet, exercise and other lifestyle modifications under control, and be sure that our health care providers are partnering with us to stay on top of our heart health. As women, we get few early indicators of heart disease. A history of preeclampsia is a not a death warrant - it is a call to action. Consider the resources that Women Heart make available to us and take charge of your health today. For instance, their recent webcast with Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius and other VIPs mentions this important preeclampsia-heart health linkage.
I was in meetings all day Friday - a day we were called to wear red - and spent much of the time strategizing about the Foundation's role in this important preeclampsia-heart disease linkage. Saturday morning, our meetings continued, but not before I joined my family at a local 5K run/walk and committed myself to not just talking about it, but doing something about it. It's not just about wearing a red dress for a day, it's about walking 30 minutes a day, and saying "no" to supersizing your french fries!
What kind of commitment can you make to being healthy for yourself and the precious baby(ies) you brought into this world, sometimes with great sacrifice? Share any tips you have and we'll collect and publish them in a future edition of Expectations!