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Release Date: 2/12/2014

Love her heart this Valentine's Day

Christopher Allen, M.D., Heart Specialty Associates

Christopher Allen, M.D., Heart Specialty Associates

By Christopher Allen, M.D.
Heart Specialty Associates

I look at Valentine’s Day a little differently than most men. As a husband of six years, I understand all the hearts, flowers, and sweets that go along with this day. However, as a cardiologist, I am more concerned about the heart inside my wife’s body than the heart on a card.

In the United States, one out of every four women dies from heart disease.  Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease.  Arteries become hard and narrow, which can lead to chest pain and heart attacks.  Blood has a tough time getting to the heart, so the heart does not get all the blood it needs.  Ten years ago, nearly 60 percent more women died from heart disease and strokes than from all cancers combined.  Both men and women have heart attacks, but more women who have heart attacks die from them.

Genetics and lifestyle choices certainly play roles as to whether a woman will have heart disease. Encouraging the women in your life to exercise, stop smoking, eat a balanced diet and get regular check-ups will go a long way to helping your loved ones live a longer life.  

Since February is American Heart Month, I would also like to share three ideas for that Valentine’s dinner that can help make the women you love happy and heart-healthy:

  1. Serve fish. Albacore, tuna and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and canned salmon contains soft bones that give an added boost of calcium intake. Use fresh or frozen vegetables and make your own dressings and marinades rather than using canned or bottled items. Skip the jar with the herbs and seasonings and use fresh ones instead. All the freshness
  2. Red wine - Researchers have found that drinking a four-ounce glass of red wine daily reduces the risk of heart disease in women. The antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, helps reduce the production of “bad” cholesterol, boosts the production of “good” cholesterol, and reduces blood clotting.
  3. Chocolate – Chocolate contains more than 300 naturally occurring chemicals. Studies have found chocolate to have antioxidants called phenols. Cocoa phenols were found to prevent the bad cholesterol from causing plaque buildup in the arteries. The darker the chocolate, the more phenols it contains. The purer and darker chocolates may provide the most health benefits.

As with everything, moderation is the key. Drinking too much alcohol or eating too much can have adverse effects on your health, such as obesity, liver disease and even addiction. Certainly, the health benefits that come from red wine and chocolate can also be found elsewhere. I have found, though, as a husband and a cardiologist, that simply spending time with someone I love does my heart a whole lot of good.

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