Thursday, January 29, 2015

Guest Post: Women and Heart Disease by Monique Huntley

Heart disease is a condition that affects the normal functioning of the heart and or the structures of Heart disease includes conditions that affect your blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease; abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias); heart defects that you're born with; and issues with your heart valves and muscles. A heart attack is caused from narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel (cardiovascular disease) and heart disease is used synonymously with cardiovascular disease. As we recognize American Heart Month, remember to get your heart checked-out by your healthcare provider and remember the facts about heart disease.
the heart.

Heart Disease and Women

  • Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women.
  • Heart Disease kills approximately 1 woman every minute.
  • Approximately 43 million American women suffer from Heart Disease.
  • The signs and symptoms of Heart Disease differ among women and men.
  • Heart Disease is often misdiagnosed in women.
  • Hispanic women are more likely to develop Heart Disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
  • Heart Disease is the leading cause of death among African American women.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back is mostly noted by women than men. This may confuse many women because they expect the pain to be located in the chest and left arm.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chest pain or discomfort. In women, the pain may be located in any area of the chest and not directly on the left side. 
  • Many women complain of stomach pain and they mistake this pain as Reflux. 
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder, dominantly occurs on the down the left arm. 
  • Shortness of breath. 
  • Some women complain of having a nervous cold sweat that resembles a stress-related sweat.

Prevention Strategies

  • Healthy diet: consume healthy fats, decrease saturated fats, drink alcohol in moderation, and eat well balanced foods from each food group.
  • Exercise routinely and regularly.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Get regular cardiovascular screenings from your doctor yearly.
  • Get help immediate if you suspect that you are having a heart attack.


American Heart Association. About heart disease in women. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Heart disease. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, F., & Foody, J. M. (2013). Is cardiovascular disease in young women overlooked? Women's Health, 9(3), 213-5. doi: 

Monique C. Huntley, MSN, FNP-BC, is a doctoral student in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University. 
Graphics courtesy of the author.

On Campus Events
Go Red for Women: Heart Health Lunch and Learn
Go Red for Women: Wear Red (campus photo)

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and contact us to discuss which program might be the best for you.

You might also be interested in:

Go Red Interviews with MaryJo Frederick and Dr. Roger Shipley

Creating a Heart-Healthy Diet

 If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to share!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Post: Defining the Two Most Common Thyroid Disorders by Julie Gardner

Thyroid disorders affect millions of Americans on an annual basis; however, many of those affected do not realize the cause of their symptoms or illness. The thyroid is an endocrine gland at the base of the neck that produces thyroid hormones; these hormones affect heart rate, metabolism, weight, body temperature, and keep vital organs such as the brain and heart functioning properly (American Thyroid Association [ATA], 2012a; National Cancer Institute [NCI], 2012). 

Two of the most common conditions associated with thyroid disorder are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. These disorders vary in symptoms and treatment; however, both can have detrimental effects on the body if left undiagnosed. 

Hyperthyroidism refers to the condition in which the thyroid produces too much hormone (ATA, 2012a). This overproduction, increases metabolism rates, thus causing nervousness, irritability, anxiety, weight loss, and muscle weakness (ATA, 2012a). Physicians can easily diagnose hyperthyroidism through an enlarged thyroid and rapid pulse; however, laboratory tests will need to be performed for further confirmation (ATA, 2012a). Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, surgery to remove part of the thyroid, and beta-blockers. 

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is not producing enough hormones. This condition is often caused by autoimmune disease, surgical removal of the thyroid, radiation treatment, medicines, damage to the pituitary gland, or an inflammation of the thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include a decreased metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, depression, and constipation. 

Although there is no cure for hypothyroidism, patients can manage the disorder through the use of a thyroxine medication; this medication must be taken daily for life (ATA, 2012b). Hypothyroidism is often difficult to diagnose as there are no consistent symptoms and many of the symptoms may be similar to other diseases (ATA, 2012b). Although thyroid disorders can be considered severe in some cases, they can be managed through patient and physician communication. Furthermore, someone with thyroid disorder can continue to live an active lifestyle and is encouraged to do so through healthy eating, physical activity, and continued monitoring of their thyroid condition. Thyroid disorders can, and often are, hereditary so it is important for other family members to be screened so future complications can be prevented. 

American Thyroid Association (2012a). Hyperthyroidism. Retrieved from 

American Thyroid Association (2012b). Hypothyroidism. Retrieved from 

National Cancer Institute (2012). What you need to know about thyroid cancer. Retrieved from 

Julie Gardner, BS, MEd is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University with an emphasis in population health. She received her Master of Education in Education Administration from Tarleton State University in 2000. Julie currently works as a Community Health Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in a partnership effort with Scott and White Health Plan serving Bell, Brazos, Llano, McLennan, and Williamson counties. Additionally, Julie suffers from hypothyroidism, but continues to lead an active lifestyle with her husband and two daughters. 

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and then contact us to discuss which program might be the best fit for you! 

If you enjoyed this post, we hope you will share. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Post: Healthy Resolutions and Goals by Kelsi Walker

January calendar with start in red
With the holidays behind us, it is officially resolution time. For many, January 1st was be the starting point of losing weight, eating healthier, drinking more water, making better grades, being on time, or spending more time with their loved ones. 

I remember January 1st, 2012; I had decided I would make some changes for the upcoming year. I wanted to lose 30 pounds, make straight A’s, get 8 hours of sleep, run 5 miles per day, drink 1 gallon of water per day, eat a well-balanced diet, visit 10 medical schools, travel the world, spend time with family more, get a great MCAT score, and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I didn’t meet a single one of the goals by the end of the year. Why? I had too many broad resolutions without focus. 

To help you set and achieve your healthy resolutions for the upcoming year, I have come up with three successful tips that will help you stick to your resolutions. 

  1. Select SMART goals

    Making resolutions for the New Year is the easy part, but sticking to those resolutions often times ends in disappointment. This is where SMART goals come into play. SMART goals are detailed and aid in focusing on a goal. The SMART acronym is as follows:

    Specific - Who? What? When? Where? Why?
    Measurable - How much? How many?
    Attainable - Is it realistic? Is it challenging me?
    Results-oriented/Relevant - What are the results of the goal?
    Timely - What is the timeframe for meeting my goal? An example of a non-SMART goal is I will lose 30 lbs. This goal isn’t specific, and looked a lot like the goal I had written in 2012.

    An example of a SMART goal is I will lose 30 lbs. by August 30th by eating a well-balanced meal and running 4 miles per day. This SMART goal is very specific in measuring timely and attainable results. When drafting your SMART goal resolutions, remember to be personal. This tool is designed to help you come up with a clear path in reaching your individual goals. 

  2. Write it down

    Research shows that when you write your goals down, you are more likely to be successful in achieving those goals. Invest in a planner and/or a journal to help you see your goals on paper. You can also create a vision board containing your goals, pictures, and progress, and hang it in your bedroom. Writing down your goals will help keep you accountable. 

  3. Reward yourself

    Rewarding yourself for small victories can help you stay on track; however, when rewarding yourself, its very important to stay on track with your goal. For example, if your goal were to lose weight, eating a whole pizza as a reward wouldn’t be ideal. Treat yourself to a movie, a pedicure, or free live concert in your area. Celebrate the small victories and milestones by making healthy decisions. 

As you come up with your healthy resolutions for the upcoming year, remember that these goals are self-improvement lifestyle changes for a better you. As you tackle your goals (because I’m confident you will) don’t focus on how far you have to go, but on how far you’ve come. Have a wonderful 2015! 

References: New year, healthier you [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from,,20452233,00.html 

Kelsi Walker is a graduate student at Texas Woman’s University and is currently pursuing a MS in Health Studies with an emphasis on population health. In 2012, she received a dual-degree in Medical Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies from the University of Oklahoma. Her interests are in minority disparities from preventable diseases. Kelsi’s ultimate goal is to matriculate into medical school in the near future. 

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and then contact us about which program might be the best fit for you!  

You might also be interested in:

Ideas for Creating Healthy Resolutions

6 Tips to Help You Prepare for a New Semester

If you like this post, we hope you will share!