To the heart
Women’s hearts have huge capacity: hearts that love the whole family,
kiss away tears and chase monsters from under the bed. But they have their
limits—heart disease is the number one killer of women over 55 years old.
Heart disease and stroke kill more women than breast cancer, and yet, only
13 per cent of Canadian women say heart disease is their greatest health risk.
Women’s risk factors for heart disease include conditions caused by
pregnancy, increased blood pressure, birth control pills and high cholesterol.
Women often focus on their family’s health needs, instead of their own—
and may ignore the symptoms of heart disease because they seem
Shortness of breath? She may think she’s just out of shape.
Sudden weight gain, swollen feet? She may think she’s
simply gaining weight. Frequent indigestion and
nausea? She waives them off because she thinks
she’s stressed. You get the picture. Short of
a crushing pain to the chest, women are
less likely to know something is
wrong with their heart than they
are to recognize it in the heart
of others. Sadly for some
women, knowing when
to seek help about their
heart comes too late.
But there’s good news.
Women can decrease their
risk of heart disease and stroke
with a few simple tips, which also
apply to men:
1. Eat a healthy diet
2. Maintain a healthy weight
3. Exercise regularly
4. Quit smoking
5. Drink alcohol in moderation
6. Keep health conditions such as diabetes
After pregnancy and in the throes
of parenting, it may take time before
a woman is ready to become intimate
with her partner again. Talking is a good
way to work through any physical or
emotional changes in the relationship.
Try to be understanding and lend
a sympathetic ear—women like
to talk about their problems, and
aren’t necessarily seeking solutions.
Communication is the key to a healthy
relationship, especially once a baby is
Man oh man
Menopause is the final stage in a
woman’s reproductive cycle. Between
42 and 56 years old, those reproductive
hormones (again!) begin to drop, periods
stop and women can’t get pregnant
anymore, but menopause brought on
by illness, medication or surgery can
happen any time.
With menopause comes a change
in hormones that affects women in
different ways—some barely notice
the changes, while others have strong
reactions. Among the symptoms can
be vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood
changes, weight gain, irregular periods
and changes to hair and skin.
Some may joke about women having
hot flashes, but imagine sitting in a
meeting when, out of the blue, intense
heat starts in your chest and slowly rises
to your face. You sweat hard enough to
soak your shirt. Your face becomes beet
red and you have no idea how long this
feeling will last, or when it will happen
As Tammy Wynette famously crooned:
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.”
The advice Tom Keenan, a University
of Calgary professor who writes a men’s
health column for the Calgary Herald
and other Postmedia newspapers, gives
about men’s sexual health is equally
valid for women’s: “Remember, the brain
is the most important sex organ, and
there’s so much that a partner can do
to improve the mental side of life in