Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, making up for one of every three deaths each year in females. No one knows heart health like Porter Regional Hospital, which houses Northwest Indiana’s only Heart Center for Women. That’s why they hosted a fun, educational evening on Wednesday, gathering women of all ages and backgrounds to talk to professionals in the field on how to build and maintain a healthy heart, in very surprising ways.
“It’s important to explore all of the avenues that are available to women, combining holistic and medicinal treatments,” Dr. Jane Bradlaw who is on the medical staff at Porter Regional Hospital said. “And it’s important to educate the community that there’s so many other approaches to heart health.”
“The Unique Heart Health of Women- To Stay Young- Start Young” symposium featured speakers, blood pressure screenings, heart-healthy refreshments and chair massages. Most valuable of all, speakers Dr. Maya Kommineni, Dr. Vijaya Chapala and Bradlaw, opened the dialogue about women’s heart health and creative, holistic ways to not become a statistic. Kommineni, Medical Director of the Heart Center for Women, said spreading awareness is key to saving lives.
“The biggest thing is that most cardiovascular diseases are preventable, and it starts with nutrition,” Kommineni said. “We want to catch women in primary prevention, before there’s a heart issue.”
Chapala, who specializes in natural ways to prevent diseases and support health, spoke about the endless benefits of meditation, which relieves stress, reduces harmful hormone levels, lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate and much more. She even guided the audience through some facets of meditation and relaxation techniques.
“A lot of people think meditation is only for spiritual people, that only Hindus and Buddhists practice meditation,” Chapala said. “But that’s not true. Meditation isn’t a religion. It’s a science.”
Chapala pointed out that, because stress is a cause of many cardiovascular issues, meditation is a technique that has proven to help people combat tension to achieve a healthy, happy mind and body.
Bradlaw, who specializes in emergency medicine and integrative medicine, spoke about how yoga and other stress-relieving activities have been researched and proved to aid heart health among many other things.
“We are seeing a link between chronic stress and disease,” Bradlaw said. “There have been a lot of studies on this, and a lot of research about how chronic stress is creating inflammation in our bodies, causing disease...and what we’re seeing with chronic stress is chronic fatigue, irritability, insomnia, concentration problems, bad choices, depression, obesity, and it’s now seen as a risk factor for heart disease.”
From exercising to making time for relaxing hobbies, Bradlaw said these are all “medicine” for a healthier heart and happier mind.
February, being both American Heart Month and Women’s History Month, is the perfect time to celebrate and spread awareness with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, which advocates for women’s cardiovascular health. Red outfits peppered in hearts were prominent in the audience, showing both solidarity and festiveness.
“It’s great seeing the community come out to get educated on this topic,” Kommineni said. “And it’s great to know that everyone you’re educating will take that knowledge and spread it to other women, so they also can be ambassadors for women’s cardiovascular health.”