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- Health risks mom should think about that may increase life insurance costs
- May 12th, 2012 5:05 AM
When a woman becomes a mother everything in her life changes. Everything in her world becomes about her child. While mothers are nursing cuts and scrapes, whipping up an amazing home-cooked meal for their family or providing counsel to their daughter’s broken heart after a breakup, they too often neglect the basic necessity of taking care of their own health and wellbeing.
“Women are so concerned taking care of their husbands and children they put their wellbeing last and they are too busy or too embarrassed or don’t want to inconvenience anyone to call 911 if they are feeling symptoms,” says Lisa Townsend, director of Sister-to-Sister, The Women’s Heart Health Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Chevy Chase, Md. that is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease in women.
“Women have to be healthy to take care of their own family. Women keep the family going and keep the family glued together, so they should not to hesitate to seek screening and medical care if they think they are at risk for heart attack,” Townsend says.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day and while children everywhere will be celebrating the most important woman in their life, there are a number of health risks concerning women that are often overlooked or poorly reported in the media. In order to prevent the most common threats that may increase mortality and impact their life insurance rates, they first must recognize the most serious health risks affecting them.
The number one killer of women in the United States is Heart Disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, The American Heart Association reported that heart disease and stroke caused 2,200 deaths of both men and women in the United States. Women Heart, The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease reported that one third of women have died from heart disease in the U.S., according to a 2010 report from The American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee.
A common misconception is that breast cancer is the most life-threatening illness that women and their doctors must keep a watchful eye on. However, more than 200,000 women die of heart attack every year.
“A lot of women don’t know heart disease is the number one killer of women and not men,” says Townsend.
Sister to Sister offers a guide for women “Smart for the Heart” that provides a heart risk health assessment.
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease based in Washington D.C. offers advice on heart disease prevention and early detection.
Townsend adds that women really think that breast cancer is their greatest risk, but to put this in perspective, recent statistics show that one in 30 women will die of breast cancer, while one and three women will die of heart disease.
It’s a sobering fact that more than 200,000 women lose their lives due to a heart attack and 432,000 women die of cardiovascular disease each year. In fact, heart attacks cause five times as many deaths as breast cancer in women each year. Women who are smokers are also three times more likely to die from a heart attack.
There are seven risk factors for cardiovascular disease and weight is related to all of them. A lack of physical activity, poor diet, cholesterol, blood pressure, high glucose levels and high sodium intake already contribute to the risk of having a major cardiac event. When smoking is added to the mix, the result can be fatal. Unfortunately, the AHA concludes that women are less likely to receive the proper treatment for a heart attack than men.
Brian Ashe, CLU, and Treasurer of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) and owner of Brian Ashe & Associates, Ltd. in Lisle, Ill. says that when it comes to rating life insurance policies for women, two things should be considered: getting a policy while still relatively young (in their 30s and 40s) and if there’s a serious health problem doing whatever it takes to maintain the condition and get your health back on track.
“If a woman has a heart attack and she will likely recover and she’s doing well, carriers might not any interest in writing insurance for the first couple of years, but this is only if the attack was mild and her blood pressure and cholesterol are under control,” Ashe says.
After the one to two-year waiting period, Ashe says that the policy would still have a Table rating of 2 to 4. This is an extra amount of premium they might pay for a serious pre-existing health condition when they apply for life insurance coverage.
“Through the passage of time and with continued good health the policy could be re-reviewed and go back to standard,” Ashe adds.
The key to preventing higher health and life insurance rates is not to develop a heart condition to start with. While women and men are both at risk for having a heart condition, heart disease is still highly preventable.
“Heart disease is the only serious illness that is reversible and preventable. In fact, 82 percent of women can lower their risk factors for heart disease by just leading a healthy lifestyle,” Townsend says.
For women between 40 and 60 years of age that have risk factors for heart disease, a lot of those factors can be controlled by reducing salt intake, enhancing physical activity, taking their medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing stress.
The top causes of heart disease are all avoidable: smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, eating saturated fats high in cholesterol, eating processed foods, high blood pressure, poor stress management and a sedentary lifestyle, so the best approach is to eat right and exercise.
Jackie Warner is best known as the no-nonsense celebrity personal fitness trainer. Considered the foremost fitness expert in her field, Warner has helped to shape and reshape and strengthen and tone some of Hollywood’s most famous names. Warner is also the star of Bravo’s “Workout” and “Thintervention” has a line of health and wellness products (including an Omega balance supplement, metabolism enhancing water boosters, a balanced vitamin, vanilla bean whey protein powder, a craving control bar, and a jump rope called Jump! The Ultimate Rope). She is the author of several books and DVD’s about exercise and fitness. In other words, Warner walks the walk and talks the talk.
Her latest book “10 Pounds in 10 Days” recently made April’s New York Time’s bestseller list and in this book she proves that you don’t have to be a celebrity to get fit and healthy and you can do it in half the time it would normally take, with just a touch of discipline and making a few life changes.
“Heart health and a healthy diet and exercise go hand in hand,” Warner says. “The body was not made not meant to be sedentary on any given day, you have to get up and start moving and you have to feed it the fuel it needs to keep moving. It doesn’t matter what your age is, a healthy weight can be maintained if you follow the proper regimen and don’t cheat.”
According to Warner, 70 to 85 percent of her book tackles the proper diet and nutrition for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.
“The book is actually a 30-day program broken into 10-day phases and you eat what I tell you to eat and when I tell you to eat it,” Warner says. “The foods in my book have been handpicked, researched and chosen by me and that is why I call them ‘superstar’ foods. They provide the best vitamins and the best nutritional benefit.”
Some of the superstar foods include apples, which Warner says are fantastic for reducing cholesterol. She says there is a lot of misinformation in the media about what people should be eating, which includes differing opinions about fish. Out of all of the types of fish that will provide the most nutritional benefit, she says salmon is the best choice. If you are training and in search of good protein, she says a better option is eating eggs. She says avoid white flours, white breads, white rice, cookies, pretzels, crackers and croutons.
“Eggs are the purest protein you can have and it has been proven that there was a significant cholesterol drop when two eggs a day were added to your diet. Also, the lecithin found in eggs is a major fat burner and inhibits cholesterol absorption in the blood,” Warner says.
Advice for new mothers
Warner says pregnant women need to be working out and conditioning their body five days a week.
“For two reasons: Pregnancy goes smoother and they lose body weight more effectively when it comes to losing fat in the abdominal area,” Warner says.
However, she warns, no weight-bearing or crunch exercises.
Advice for working mothers
Recent studies found that exercising three times a week is not effective to maintaining and changing your body. A big problem with exercise program is not sticking with it if you don’t see changes within a couple of weeks.
“In all my year’s of training, if clients didn’t drop two sizes in two weeks they started sabotaging themselves,” Warner says. “Often they set unrealistic goals for themselves. If they don’t see a difference in their body in short amount of time and regardless of whether they feel healthier, it didn’t matter because they quit the program. This is why you have to switch up exercise routines frequently. A good way to stay engaged is to change cardio and resistance training drastically every month. This is one of the reasons why P90X has been so effective because you are not repeating exercises and you are seeing results.”
Working mothers who have limited time to workout have several options for staying in shape.
“If they get one of my DVDs they can workout right in their living room for a half-hour and they don’t have to drive to the gym,” Warner recommends. “If you make the time to workout you will feel much more energized throughout your day. You can simply grab a DVD or grab a couple weights and exercise before your day starts or at the end. It’s best to figure out what time of the day you feel the strongest so you can get the maximum benefit from your workout routine.”
Advice for women in their 50s and 60s
Women in their 50s and 60s should continue to exercise because it benefits them in many ways, Warner says, which includes increasing bone density.
“I am in my 40s and what I do is very basic and not high impact,” Warner says. “I do a lot of body building movements and it’s about combining the right function with perfect form to complete fatigue. Which includes training hard to muscle failure, this just means high repetition chest presses, squats, lunges and five to 10 pushups. That is how you should be training.”
Warner adds that she does a combination of circuit training and stresses that older women should be lifting weights to increase bone density.
“If your mother is in her 50s or 60s this is the time she should be working with weights,” Warner says.
Although Warner has never trained someone who is a heart attack survivor, she has trained people who have heart conditions. In fact, she was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a common heart valve abnormality, and still maintains a rigorous exercise program.
“People who have heart conditions or are recovering from them need to exercise to maintain optimal health. However, it is imperative to contact a physician before starting any training program,” she says.
This article was originally published by Life Quotes, Inc.
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