Feb 14 2023
Women and Cardiac Events
This week we are talking once again with Kristal Kent. If you recall, Kristal has joined us on previous interviews discussing Fibromyalgia and again discussing prepping for surgery as a chronically ill person. We never really gave Kristal the credit she deserves for being such a fantastic advocate for all Veterans and those with Fibro or other life-long medical conditions. Allow me to properly introduce this dynamic woman! Kristal Kent is a disabled Army Veteran living with Fibromyalgia and served with the 256th Combat Support Hospital (256th CSH). Kristal worked with the Personnel (HR) department, then after September 11th, 2001, Kristal was re-assigned to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) of the 256th CSH. After being medically discharged due to injuries, Kristal stayed on with her unit, the 256th CSH, and volunteered for 2 ½ years as the Family Readiness Group Leader, re-invigorating the program to become a supportive extension of the unit for the soldiers and their families. During her time as the FRG Leader, Kristal upstarted a Food Pantry to assist the Unit’s service members struggling with food sustenance, coordinated a resource list of federal, state, and local support and assistance resource programs for soldiers and families, along with hosted “Readiness” educational weekend to ensure soldiers and Military Families were prepared for deployment. Kristal’s Volunteerism as FRG Leader was officially recognized with a Commendation from the U.S. Department of the Army. Kristal also worked in Social Services for over 20 years in a variety of roles, from Adult Advocacy Coordinator, Care Coordinator, Assertive Community Treatment Specialist, Benefits Coordinator and Supported Employment Services, assisting individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Mental Health Conditions and Veterans alike. As a Veteran living with Fibromyalgia, Kristal identified the lack of supports, healthcare options and education for those living with Fibromyalgia, especially Veterans. To address the gap in healthcare and community supports, Kristal founded the initiatives, “The Fibromyalgia Pain Chronicles” and “Veteran Voices For Fibromyalgia,” to address the inequities in healthcare, Kristal engages in VA Policy Advocacy, Legislative Advocacy and Systems Advocacy to emote positive change for those living with Fibromyalgia. Kristal also provides support, educational resources, and advocates on behalf of those living with various Chronic Pain Conditions, Rare Diseases, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Kristal’s Advocacy work on behalf of the Veteran and Fibromyalgia Communities has been recognized by several organizations such as WEGO Health in which she received the Patient Leader Hero Award and the Best In Show on Facebook in 2018, the 2019 Fibro Warrior Award from the Fibromyalgia Care Society of America, the Warrior of the Week in 2020 from UK Fibromyalgia. In May 2021 Kristal was presented with a Commendation from the State of Ohio House of Representatives for her advocacy work through Veteran Voices For Fibromyalgia. In August 2022, Kristal was chosen by Health Union, through the Social Health Awards patient advocacy platform, as the recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, in May 2022 Kristal advocated for and obtained a Proclamation designating May 12th as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day from the State of Ohio Governor. Kristal previously served 3 years as a Board of Trustee for the Fibromyalgia Care Society of America along with previously served as a Board Member on the Wego Health Patient Advisory Board. Kristal is currently a member of Society For Participatory Medicine, Social Health’s Patient Leader Network, a Co-Op member of Savvy Cooperative and a member of the American Legion. Kristal's latest medical challenge has been heart related. Since February is heart health month and Valentines Day happens to be on a Tuesday this year (we post our episodes on Tuesdays) what better of a guest for this week? SOCIAL MEDIA: FACEBOOK: The Fibromyalgia Pain Chronicles: https://www.facebook.com/FibroPainChronicles Veteran Voices For Fibromyalgia: https://www.facebook.com/VeteranVoices4Fibro INSTAGRAM: Kristal @ The Fibromyalgia Pain Chronicles: http://www.instagram.com/thefibropainchronicles YOUTUBE: The Fibromyalgia Pain Chronicles: https://www.youtube.com/feed/my_videos Veteran Voices For Fibromyalgia: https://www.youtube.com/feed/my_videos WEGO HEALTH: https://app.wegohealth.com/Kristal 11 Tips For Keeping Your Heart Healthy As A Woman Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for one in four deaths each year. Cardiac events, such as heart attacks and strokes, are also more common in women than men. While there are many factors that contribute to heart disease, there are also a number of things that women can do to protect themselves. These include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, exercise, and knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Here are eleven tips for keeping your heart healthy as a woman. These tips are based on the latest scientific evidence and are designed to help you lower your risk of heart disease and live a healthier life. 1. Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death for Women in the United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that about 1 in every 4 female deaths is attributed to heart disease. A variety of lifestyle choices and risk factors can contribute to the development of heart disease. It is important to be aware of them and take steps to reduce your risk. 2. Women Often Experience Different Symptoms of Heart Disease Than Men: Though men and women both experience cardiovascular events, it has been found that women can experience different symptoms than men. Women may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, or pain in the upper back and neck, aside from chest pain. Women may also have a higher risk of developing atypical heart attack symptoms than men. If something doesn’t seem quite right, it is important to seek medical attention right away. 3. There are Certain Lifestyle Choices That Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy: Making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of heart disease. For example, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Additionally, it is important to pay attention to your food choices and quit smoking. All of these measures can help reduce the risk for cardiovascular events. 4. Pay Attention to Your Family History: It is important to pay attention to your family history, as your risk for heart disease can be higher if there is a family history of heart disease. It is important to speak with your doctor about your family history and determine if you need to be tested for any genetic heart diseases. 5. Manage Your Mental Health: Mental health can also be an important factor when it comes to heart health. Studies have found that stress, depression, and anxiety can all increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Taking steps to manage your mental health, such as talking to a therapist or engaging in mindfulness practices, can help reduce this risk. 6. Be Physically Active: Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your heart health. It can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes five days a week. Activities such as walking, biking, and running are all good options. 7. Eat a Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart. The AHA recommends following an eating plan that is high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fat. This includes eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 8. Don't Smoke: Smoking can damage the cells in the coronary arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease. If you smoke, it is important to quit. It can take time and there are a variety of resources available to help. 9. Get Your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Checked Regularly: High cholesterol and high blood pressure can both make it more difficult for your heart to work properly, so it is important to get them checked regularly. Your doctor can help you decide how often these tests should be done. 10. Keep Diabetes Under Control: Diabetes can also increase the risk of heart disease. Keeping your diabetes under control can help keep your heart healthy. This means managing your blood sugar levels, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. 11. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep: Inadequate sleep can increase the risk of heart disease. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and speak to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. Advantage of Women's Health Screenings: Annual wellness physicals or women's health screenings can help detect certain medical issues early on, which can be beneficial for heart health. These screenings may include electrocardiograms (ECG) or other tests to check your heart health. Conclusion: Following the tips outlined above can help reduce your risk of heart disease and help keep your heart healthy as a woman. It is important to remember that each person is unique and it is important to speak with your doctor to understand what is best for your individual needs.