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Teaching Patients to Love Their Hearts

Donna Nicholson shares how American Heart Month can be an opportunity to raise awareness and education of heart disease among the female patient population.

February is known for being the month of love, but those cute boxes of chocolates aren’t the only place you may have seen hearts featured this month. Looking beyond the cards, flowers, and sentimental expressions of Valentine’s Day, there is a more serious heart matter at the front of people’s minds: the consequences of heart disease in women. In case you weren’t aware, in the U.S., February is recognized as American Heart Month — a time when all people (women especially) are encouraged to focus on their cardiovascular health.  

It seems that each calendar month is now associated with spreading awareness of one significant health issue or another, which, in my opinion, is a positive thing. It’s good to take a moment to educate ourselves, our loved ones—and for many of you, your patients—about how to monitor common health concerns. So, in honor of heart month, I encourage you to acknowledge the unique challenges that women face in relation to heart disease.  

Do your patients know that cardiovascular is the number one killer of women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined? Are they aware that cardiovascular disease is the top killer of new moms? If the answer to those questions is yes, then they are amongst only about 40% of people who are aware of these shocking statistics. Cardiovascular disease in women can be consequential at any age, but its prevalence is too often overlooked by the general public.  

While heart disease affects both men and women, there are important differences in how it manifests and progresses in women, making it imperative for us to increase awareness and understanding. More so than in men, heart disease in women can be subtle – the thought being that often the cardiovascular disease in women affects the smaller vessels feeding the heart versus the more common large vessels. In addition to the traditional concerns of diet and exercise, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, stress, depression, and menopause are common contributing factors to the escalation of heart disease in women. It’s essential for us to be attentive to these factors and not only integrate this into our patient evaluations and treatment plans, but also into conversations with patients to raise awareness and education when appropriate. 

In light of these considerations, even if cardiovascular care is not traditionally part of your services, I urge you to use heart month as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of comprehensive cardiovascular care for female patients. Encourage them to initiate conversations with healthcare professionals, educate themselves about their personal risk factors and lifestyle challenges, and implement preventive measures. By actively participating in their care and providing guidance, you can empower your female patients to make informed decisions and take control of their heart health. Let’s work together to support and uplift one another in embracing healthy choices and improving outcomes for women with heart disease. 


The opinions and views expressed in blog posts on Curi’s site belong to and are solely those of the individual author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Curi Advisory or Curi Advisory’s parent or affiliated companies or their members, insureds, clients, customers, or partners. This post is for informational purposes only and it should not be construed or relied upon as medical advice.  If medical care is needed, please consult a qualified professional.