February is National Heart Health Month and many are working to help spread awareness of the number one killer of women in America, heart disease.
For 50-year-old Kim Winder, keeping a healthy heart is something she’s been mindful of her entire life.
“When I was a little girl I was diagnosed with a heart murmur,” said Winder. “When I was younger I didn’t understand it fully because as a kid you want to run jump and play. You want to make sure you can do activities and having fun. So I was limited in what I could do.”
Growing up, Winder took the necessary steps to stay healthy. As an adult she says she felt fine. That was until she didn’t.
“It was a gripping pain,” said Winder. “It was one of those types of pains that would come significantly and grab you. Kind of get a hold on you and then it would just go away.”
Winder didn’t quite know what was wrong, but she knew something wasn’t right.
“One thing that is very common is I know that they know that something is wrong but can never sort of pin it down,” said Dr. Momina Mastoor at MedStar Hospital. “I appreciate it when patients do come forward with vague symptoms. Then you know we can go over their history, risk factors stratification and go figure out what’s wrong.”
Mastoor has spent years working with women with heart disease. She knows firsthand how difficult it could be for women to know something is wrong.
“The symptoms can range from being tired to not feeling right, to having a filtering sensation in the chest or feeling short of breath,” said Mastoor.
Thankfully Winder acted quickly and she discovered she had other heart issues outside of her heart murmur.
“That was very scary for me,” said Winder. “I didn’t want to play any games.“
Mastoor stresses the importance of women knowing their bodies and thinking of heart health. Even when they think it’s too early to start worrying about it.
Mastoor suggests being proactive about your heart health in your 20s. She recommends knowing your numbers in terms of your blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI, as well as establishing good eating habits.
“It’s not too early to start when you’re in your twenties,” said Mastoor.
Then in your 30s when stress can play a big role in your life, Mastoor recommends exercising and staying active to help balance stress.
“If it becomes a way of life, then chances are it will stay like that,” said Mastoor.
As you continue to get older, here are some things you should keep in mind to help keep your heart healthy:
Knowing your numbers
Having good eating habits
If you feel like anything is wrong, even if you can’t pinpoint what it is, go get checked out
After being proactive and catching her heart issues early, Winder says she’s doing well.
“I was determined to make sure that I would be healthy,” said Winder. “I would follow the advice of my physician and that we would collaborate this team effort so that I would live a healthy life”