February is heart health month and I wanted to talk about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Heart Health. Did you know that if you have PCOS you are at a greater risk for heart disease? This is due to high levels of insulin that are found in PCOS patients – this increases your chance of high cholesterol, blood pressure and atherosclerosis. All of these markers can increase your chance of a heart attack and stroke. This post is not to scare you, but to become aware of the long-term risks associated with PCOS.
Additionally, inflammation that we see in PCOS can also impact and our risk of heart disease. Signs of inflammation in PCOS include hair loss, acne, weight gain, bloating, pain, and more. Inflammation can worsen due to low progesterone, autoimmune disease, poor gut health, insulin resistance, sleep apnea, stress, etc.
There are some things you can do in order to manage your PCOS symptoms and protect your heart <3.
Lab Testing: First things first, get some lab testing to see your heart health status. Common tests to assess for heart health include:
- cholesterol panel
- HS-CRP, which is a marker of inflammation
Additionally, in order to test for insulin resistance, fasting glucose and fasting insulin are commonly recommended.
Whole food diet: lots of vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates are important. Ensure you are getting enough vegetables in your day. Whether you snack on some veggies in the afternoon or add it to your smoothie in the morning! Fiber is also key – opt for ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp hearts!
Get Moving: Doing some physical activity is important! Exercise helps keep our hearts protected. Plan on parking your car a little further away from your office and walk, take the stairs whenever you have the chance, walk to the grocery store (if it’s close!). Find ways you can get some added steps in your day can go a long way!
Check out this article by Erica, Fitness Trainer, health addict, and the writer of the blog The Healthy Girl Hustle on Top 3 Workout Excuses and How to Stop Making them.
Sleep: Ensure that you are getting good sleep. Get your body ready to rest by getting to sleep at a reasonable time, typically 10-11pm. Sleep is so important when it comes to restoring all of the organs in your body. If you snore, consider doing a sleep study. We often see sleep apnea associated with insulin resistance.
Additionally, it goes without saying for heart health, quitting smoking is so incredibly important and alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
Hope this was helpful to give you some insight on how you can protect your heart!
Click here to get a PCOS food cheat sheet.