Heart This: Dr. Steinbaum On Why Effective Women Leaders Respect Heart Health
During Women’s History month, Take The Lead hosted the most recent Virtual Happy Hourwith Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist and director of Women’s Heart Health at the Heart and Vascular Institute, Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. She stressed that women’s heart health matters and to be an effective leader, a woman needs to respect her health.
On why she is so passionate about what she does:
Dr. Steinbaum says historically women’s heart health was not prioritized or treated as a separate issue from men’s heart health. Women are programmed to take care of others and neglect themselves in the process. As a medical student, Dr. Steinbaum says she was diligent and observant. During that time she witnessed an incident at the hospital when a women was misdiagnosed for a gastric problem, when it was a heart attack. She decided that this was unacceptable and she would devote her life to being a cardiologist specializing in preventing heart diseases in women.
On whether more women cardiologists has made a difference to heart care for women:
Before 1984, medical research was conducted only on male hearts. But that year, more fatalities were seen in women due to heart diseases. That was also coincidently the year the number of women equaled the number of men in the U.S. work force. As the research was not specific by gender, medical treatment was behind. With more female physicians today, this has changed the approach. More funds are allocated to medical research for women, and there has been some change due to advocacy. Organizations such as Go Red For Women have made great advances in awareness and support of women’s heart health.
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On Her Patients and Paying Attention:
Dalilah is a telecom service operator who works with Dr. Steinbaum during her on call schedule. Over the years, she and Dr. Steinbaum have established a relationship. Once when Dalilah called Dr. Steinbaum about a patient, Dr. Steinbaum noticed Dalilah was breathless so she asked her questions. Dalilah opened up about her marital abuse, and spoke of how she was a single working mother working long hours to support her children. Dr. Steinbaum’s gesture to care for Dalilah’s health had an emotional impact on her and leads her to take every opportunity to communicate to women to never forget to care for themselves. Watch Dalilah’s video on this VHH link.
On how women can prevent heart disease:
Eighty to 90 percent of heart diseases can be prevented. To help prevent heart disease, know your numbers. Those numbers include your cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and BMI. Also know your diet and lifestyle. Understand your history and be objective about it.
According to Dr. Steinbaum, everyone has stress. It all depends on how you manage it. She suggests you maintain a daily practice to manage stress– whether through exercise, diet, yoga or meditation. All these steps can decrease the incidence of heart disease. Dr. Steinbaum points out that some women who suffered from heart disease were those who felt out of control at work. She says people who truly “live from the heart” are more calm and focused. Being busy is not the same as exercising. Running around for work is not cardio. Being active is critical to achieve target heart rate. Dr. Steinbaum says the formula to arrive at the target heart rate is 220 minus your age, multiplied by 85 percent.
On wearable technology, atrial fibrillation, and the effect of menopause on heart conditions:
Dr. Steinbaum is working on a product device that will measure accurately a person’s health condition, far more she claims than any of the products in the market. What she likes about these products though is how they make us accountable. The more empowered we are to understand how we live, the more it empowers us to make changes.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that is of growing concern in women older that 65, because it increases the risk of stroke. Dr. Steinbaum advises those suffering from it to be on prescription blood thinners. Menopause also increases chances of heart disease, as the body goes through numerous hormonal changes. Dr. Steinbaum suggests the same best practices to manage these conditions including exercise, diet, and awareness of your health numbers. She says, “Train for menopause, as you would for a marathon.”
On nutrition needs for active women:
Dr. Steinbaum encourages all women to consume complex carbohydrates. She claims bread and pasta do us no harm. She says they are critical for women who are active. Consuming only protein and vitamin supplements do not make a healthy diet and can cause future complications. It is in the best interest of all women, to maintain a wholesome diet and exercise regularly to stay fit.
On what quote gets her powered up:
From an early age, Dr. Steinbaum decided to tread the path less travelled by deciding to work in the field of heart care for women in a male dominated field. Her favorite quote is from the Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All.” Dt. Steinbaum says she would repeat the lyric to herself, “If I should fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believed. No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.” She encourages everyone to live life with passion and purpose. That is the best way to stay healthy.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life
Dr. Steinbaum’s Risk Factor Checklist
Stay tuned for next month’s Virtual Happy Hour on April 13 with Nancy Lublin, a non-profit entrepreneur, as she discusses how philanthropy is changing the world.
About the Author
Nishita is Take The Lead's blog editor. She is a Marketing Graduate at New York University. She is passionate about writing and expresses her opinions through this medium.