Choose to Move for a Healthy Heart -- with Rita Redberg, MD, MSc and Joan Lunden
By Joan Lunden
Heart disease is a leading killer of women. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Joan Lunden, an award-winning television journalist, is teaming up with cardiologist Rita F. Redberg, MD, to get out the word about the American Heart Association's "Choose to Move" program for women. They joined us on June 13, 2005 to chat about what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
MODERATOR: Welcome to WebMD Live Joan, Dr. Redberg. Thank you for joining us today.
LUNDEN: It's a pleasure.
REDBERG: Thank you, it's my pleasure.
MODERATOR: Please tell us about the American Heart Association program.
LUNDEN: "Choose to Move" is a program that's trying to increase awareness of women that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in this country -- nearly half a million women die each year. When you really think about it, that is about one death a minute.
I think that we have all become savvy to how important exercise and healthy eating is in order to live healthy lives and longer lives. But the problem is that not enough of us have started incorporating it into our lives. The American Heart Association did a survey and they found that about 76% of women said, "I get it, I understand, I know I have to do it." But only 28% actually said that they were incorporating any significant amount of activity into their lives.
I know that even myself, as a reporter who has dealt with these kinds of surveys and these kinds of reports over the years -- for a long time I was hearing it and maybe paying lip service to it. It took me a long time before I kind of turned that corner and embraced how important this was in the fact that it was going to increase my life span and increase my energy level.
It's not just a matter of fitting into a smaller size pants, it's understanding that you're going to be able to run after your kids as they get older and be able to still get up out of a chair and live a healthy life when you get into your later years. That's why I jumped on the band wagon here to try to get the word out to American women.
MODERATOR: We hear that heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of American women, yet many of us don't pay as much attention to our heart health as we should. Why do you think that is?
REDBERG: One reason could be that on average women are about ten years older than men when they get heart disease. For many years until really the last decade, heart disease was largely considered a man's disease. I think when you don't see heart disease as a personal health threat you are less likely to take preventive action. We really learned a lot in the last ten years about how heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and as important, that is largely preventable, or at least the onset can be delayed.
There is great data that shows us that women that are active and that continue to be active will not just live longer, but will have a better quality of life. They are able to do more things, to keep their physical faculties, and actually keep their mental faculties and show slower decline in cognitive function; the things that can occur with aging are slowed with regular physical activity. That's what "Choose to Move" tries to help women with -- incorporating exercise.
LUNDEN: I think for a lot of women -- all women -- we're juggling a lot of balls these days. Just getting started is sometimes the biggest obstacle. You think about it, you talk about it, you read about it, but getting going is what we're really out there right now to try to get women to kind of sign on to that idea, to embrace that idea.
"Choose to Move" is a free program; it's a 12-week program, and you get a handbook. It's easy to join -- you can call 888-MYHEART or if you are on a computer, you can log on to www.americanheart.org/choosetomove and sign up.
I think what it does is the program kind of helps hold your hand a little bit. It's your cheerleader and it gives you a lot of different ideas of ways to incorporate physical activity in your life.
It's not just the idea of purely exercise. I found that one of the secrets is not just to exercise for exercise, but to incorporate playtime or fun time. Think about what you liked as a child. I looked at my life; I loved horse back riding, tennis and swimming so I started incorporating some of those things back into my adult life. I found girlfriends who would go do things with me. I started getting my husband to do these things with me. I think a lot of women will find that if they try to get their family involved, get your husband involved, it puts playtime back into your relationship. It puts competition, which is fun sometimes, into getting back on the tennis court or back on a racquetball court or going out and throwing a ball around in the backyard with your kids.