The Canadian beauty brand, which is made with totally natural ingredients, opens a lipstick lab in Toronto.
We’ve talked up Bite Beauty before. This Canadian makeup brand has more going for it than its birthplace—it’s also totally natural and organic. That’s right—lipstick that’s good enough to eat. And now, you can take part on the actual making of a personalized lipstick (at least if you live in Toronto you can). The brand has opened its second location (the first is in New York) in Toronto—but don’t expect a regular, run-of-the-mill retail experience.
The store, located in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood, is so much more than a place to purchase lipstick. Customers can walk in and sit down with a Bite Beauty employee to figure out the exact shade and formula they should purchase. After swatching different colours and trying on a few too, you then get to watch your lipstick being made—and you get to choose a signature scent too. “I think our flagship store should tell all aspects of the brand story,” says Susanne Langmuir, Bite Beauty founder. “Bite is made by Bite, we’ve got our lab experience, and then having an event space that is more about the social experience than it is the retail one.”
Aside from walking in off the street to make lipstick, you can also book the event space upstairs and come in with a group to make lipsticks. We’re thinking this is perfect for bachelorette parties, Mother’s Day activities, baby showers—or just getting together with some of your fellow lipstick lovers for a chance to make your own. The idea is that you can “sit, have a glass on wine, have a sweet and savoury bite and then go through the personal experience of picking colour and watching how lipstick is made.”
Langmuir has more plans for the space, including a greenhouse out on the back patio with ingredients that are used in the product.
This is all interesting, but it’s hardly worth it if the product is no good. And we’re here to say, the product is good. Bite Beauty has managed to make high-pigment lipsticks with lasting power out of raw, organic materials. According to Langmuir, the average woman ingests the weight equivalent of a newborn baby in lipstick. A lipstick baby. “What you put on your lips, you eat. What you put on your skin, you absorb. And if you’re putting something on five times a day, why not have it be beneficial and have healthy ingredients?”
Bite Beauty Lip Lab is open to the public and the event space should be open by the end of the year. 678 Queen St. W., Toronto, Canada.
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.
If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up,
build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's
Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.
Do this eight-move workout two or three times a week, interspersing cardio (running, walking or cycling) in between. And as always, if you feel any pain while exercising, stop and consult a health-care provider.
1. Lateral lunge with overhead press Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your shoulders, take a large step to the left, bending your left knee and keeping your right leg straight. Send energy through your left heel to push yourself back to centre, then lift the weights overhead, extending your arms. Lower the weights to your shoulders. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A.Lifting weights overhead gives your heart a workout; your blood needs to pump against gravity.
B. Simultaneously working your arms and legs uses multiple large muscle groups, which means you're burning more calories.
C. Studies have shown that resistance training, also called weight training, may improve bone mineral density in the spine, hips and wrists.
2. One-legged dead lift Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your sides, slowly hinge forward at the hips while bending your left knee slightly and extending your right leg behind you. Lower your torso and lift your right leg until both are parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and your arms extended downward. Send energy through your left heel to lift your torso and return to a standing position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This move works often-forgotten muscle groups: the glutes and the hamstrings.
B. Standing on one leg
improves your balance, which may help prevent falls. And that stretch you feel in your hamstring promotes flexibility—being limber protects against future muscle injuries.
Tip: If you have trouble balancing, start by holding onto the back of a chair with one hand.
3. Sumo squat with biceps curl Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, with your hips, knees and feet turned out slightly. Engaging your core and holding weights in front of your hips, palms facing forward, lower your bum, as far as you can go, into a squat. Make sure your knees don't extend past your toes. Send energy through your heels to return to standing, then bend your elbows to pull the weights toward your shoulders. Do 20 reps.
A. This load-bearing exercise not only builds bone density but also
increases strength and stability, preventing falls that put bones at risk.
B. This move will help tone your abdominals, biceps, inner thighs and glutes.
C. Strengthening these muscles will give your resting metabolism a boost, so you will burn more calories per day.
4. Plyometric lunge Standing with your feet together, step forward into a lunge with your left foot, bending both knees at 90 degrees. Your right heel should be lifted and your left knee shouldn't extend past your toes. As you step forward, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward. Keeping your torso upright and engaging your abdominals, jump, simultaneously switching your arms and legs to land in a lunge on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. The impact of landing in a lunge can help build bone mass and
enhance joint stability. Take care, however, if you have existing joint problems—plyometric (explosive) exercises can contribute to joint strain.
B. The jumping motion requires you to lift your body weight with each rep, giving your heart a workout. This dynamic exercise adds a calorie-burning cardio element.
Tip: If you're having trouble keeping your balance during this fast-paced move, add a small pulse or bounce to each lunge before jumping into the next one.
5. Renegade row Holding a weight in each hand, start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, bend your left arm, lifting the weight toward your underarm. Return the weight to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. This move helps open up the chest and shoulders. Over time, it can contribute to improved posture and help protect against spine curvature.
B. This exercise will sculpt your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, obliques and upper back. It's easy to develop muscle imbalances because day-to-day activities often involve pushing movements. The pulling action of this exercise helps rebalance muscle groups, which can
decrease the risk of injury.
6. Cross-body mountain climber Start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Without moving your arms, quickly draw your left knee toward your right elbow, then return your left leg to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this move regularly, you'll notice more definition of your triceps, abdominals, obliques and shoulder muscles.
B. This high-intensity movement will get your heart rate up, improving your cardiovascular fitness.Because this exercise demands energy from your whole body, you'll
burn extra calories.
7. Side plank with hip drop Lying on your right side, stack your left leg on top of your right leg, with your right forearm on the floor, your elbow aligned directly under your shoulder, and your left arm extended upward. Press into your right forearm and lift your right hip, creating a long diagonal line with your body. Slowly lower your right hip to tap the floor, then return to the lifted position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This exercise will help define your obliques, abdominals and
B. Strengthening one side of the body at a time can prevent muscle imbalances, while core strengthening aids in stabilization.
8. Russian twist Sit on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight in front of your chest. Leaning back to engage your core, lift your feet a few inches. Then, with hips facing forward, rotate your upper body to the left and tap the weight on the floor. Next, rotate to the right, tapping the weight on the right side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this exercise regularly, you'll see increased definition of your abs, obliques and lower-back muscles.
B. This rotational movement strengthens the muscles necessary for twisting and turning—motions that often cause injury in
Tip: If you have lower-back problems, do this exercise without lifting your feet.
It took a year for Linda to make the decision to freeze her eggs. “I’d always known that I wanted a child of my own someday,” she says. “I had thought, I’m not that old, it’s not a big deal. But when I turned 38, I decided it was time to proceed.” Linda, a Vancouver-based financial professional who had recently left a three-year relationship, met with a doctor to discuss her options. A career in banking had consumed her for 18 years, and she hadn’t taken the time to travel or focus on her personal life. Because she was single and didn’t see herself having a child any time soon, she wanted to take steps to make sure she could still have biological children of her own when she was ready.
If Linda’s decision doesn’t seem radical, consider that just 10 years ago, freezing her eggs wouldn’t have been a viable option. Consider, too, that the idea of “social egg freezing” made headlines recently when Apple, Facebook and other companies agreed to cover the cost of their employees’ egg freezing even when it’s done for no other reason than to delay childbearing.
Doctors have had the technology to freeze women’s eggs since the early 1980s, but the technique didn’t work very well and the egg-survival rates were low. Because eggs were frozen slowly, they spent more time in a dangerous cold zone, where ice crystals could form. Many times, the eggs wouldn’t survive the thaw- ing process. “Eggs are very, very fragile,” says Dr. Sonya Kashyap, medical director of Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver. While sperm freezes easily because it’s mostly DNA, a woman’s egg is at least 1,000 times bigger than the head of the sperm, it’s 95 percent water and it carries all the “machinery.”
So when vitrification was invented in Japan in the early 1990s, egg freezing changed dramatically. Dr. Dan Nayot, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at TCART Fertility Partners in Toronto, explains the process as a rapid-freezing method whereby the egg is placed in a special “antifreeze” solution to help draw some of the water out so the egg doesn’t burst when frozen. The solution is then cooled so quickly that water molecules have no time to form ice crystals, so the egg spends less time in the “danger zone.” Vitrification allows clinics to freeze then thaw eggs with a survival rate of up to 90 percent. So far, the success rates are equivalent to in-vitro fertilization (IVF): about a 40 to 50 percent chance of achieving a pregnancy, depending on the quality of the eggs.
The egg-freezing process To determine eligibility for the vitrification process, a woman undergoes a series of blood tests, ultrasounds and general medical tests to check her ovarian reserve (the quantity and quality of her eggs). The recommended age limit is under 38, but doctors will review each woman’s health and consider her age before confirming that she’s a candidate. Then, similar to the stages of IVF, patients inject themselves with follicle-stimulating hormone, a naturally occurring hormone that, when taken at higher dosages, can help a woman recruit and develop more eggs.
When Linda began the process, she gave herself a daily hormone injection, then progressed to twice-daily injections. “You feel a bit like a pincushion,” she says. Once her follicles were stimulated to an ideal level (follicles are monitored frequently with ultrasounds and blood work), her doctor retrieved the available eggs from the ovary using a transvaginal ultrasound (a probe placed inside the vagina) and a guided needle. The procedure took less than 20 minutes and, though Linda was sedated, she found it fairly painful. “I don’t think it was supposed to hurt, but it did,” she says. “You can feel them pushing into the ovary to suction out the eggs.” The eggs were then frozen and will be stored indefinitely for a fee until Linda chooses to create an embryo with a partner or a sperm donor and undergo IVF.
How your age affects your fertility When it comes to fertility, a woman’s age is the biggest factor. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2010, the average age of mothers at childbirth was 30.1 (up from 23.5 in 1945). The current percentage of over-30 new moms is about two and a half times greater than it was in 1974.
So why are women waiting to have kids if fertility starts to decline after 30 and dramatically declines after 35? Statistics Canada reports that this delay in child-bearing is in part due to more women in the workforce, more women seeking out higher education and improved methods of birth control.
Not being in a relationship is a prevalent reason these days, too, says Dr. Kashyap. “Commonly, women used to come to us for fertility preservation for cancer treatment,” she says. “But now, one of the most common reasons is that women don’t have partners.” And even though she doesn’t think it’s fair to put pressure on women to have children when they’re not ready financially, relationship-wise or career-wise, she does admit that the sooner women try to conceive, the better—naturally or otherwise.
Unfortunately, if you want to use your frozen eggs at 40 or 41, but they’re not viable when thawed, your alternatives are limited. However, if you try to conceive with your frozen eggs at 35 and experience challenges, there are more options, such as trying to retrieve more viable eggs.
“Most single women at 30 are optimistic,” says Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. “If I tell a 30-year-old that she might not get married until she’s 43, she would be, like, ‘Wow, you’re a real downer.’ It’s nothing personal, but it might happen, so freeze your eggs now.”
The reality is that many women, like Linda, wait until their late 30s because they haven’t met someone with whom to have children. “Thirty-seven is the most common age that women come in requesting egg freezing,” says Dr. Schoolcraft. “They’re hitting the panic button, which is ironic because once their motivation is high and it’s obvious they should freeze their eggs, they’ve probably already waited too long.” Dr. Schoolcraft has also seen a woman’s parents come in with her to discuss egg preservation. “Some parents want to give their daughter the money to freeze her eggs because they want grandchildren.”
The cost of freezing your eggs Linda’s parents were both supportive when she told them she was going to freeze her eggs. Otherwise, only her close friends know. “I have a few friends who are the same age as me and single, too, and they wish they could do it,” says Linda. “I think cost is the main deterrent.” The process is expensive and generally not covered under provincial and territorial health plans unless “medically necessary,” for example, in the case of those undergoing potentially sterilizing treatments for illnesses like cancer. The price tag comes in at around $10,000: $7,000 for egg retrieval and freezing, not including the price of medications, and $3,000 for IVF. In addition, there are storage fees of approximately $200 a year, depending on the clinic.
The risks of delaying motherhood Even after the physical discomfort and expense of the process, egg freezing doesn’t guarantee that women will be able to have children whenever they’re ready. “When I counsel single women about fertility, I reinforce that the other reason to have a baby sooner—like, say, under 35, rather than at 45—is for them to consider what’s in the best interest of that child,” says Dr. William Buckett, director of McGill University Health Centre’s Reproductive Centre in Montreal. Health complications that could arise from carrying a baby at an older age should be considered, including an increased risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding in the third trimester, placenta previa, chromosome disorder, low-lying placenta and having to deliver by caesarean.
Dr. Buckett adds that the risk of congenital birth defects, while marginal, also increases with both egg freezing and IVF. So while egg freezing is now a viable option and has resulted in the births of many healthy babies, Dr. Buckett cautions that it’s far from ideal. “The general population needs to be aware that it’s better to get pregnant spontaneously than to get pregnant with eggs that are frozen and thawed.” And because vitrification is relatively new, most doctors emphasize that clinics don’t have reliable longterm data to prove success rates, as many patients have frozen their eggs but haven’t returned to use them yet.
The egg-retrieval process itself also carries some risk. In about one in 1,500 cases, the high level of hormones used to stimulate the follicles can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can result in hospitalization. The risk of bleeding, infection and injury is also present. “If we have a couple who has infertility, then we would accept these small risks for the benefits of a pregnancy,” says Dr. Buckett. “If someone doesn’t have infertility, then they’re accepting these risks for a more nebulous benefit.”
Despite the risks and the costs, for Linda, it was worth it. Having biological children someday is very important to her. “I’ve always wanted kids,” she says. “I don’t want to lose out on the ability to have my own child just because my life isn’t on a conventional timeline. Hopefully, by freezing my eggs I’ve taken the steps to have my own biological child at some point.”
This technology, though still new, is rapidly changing the face of reproductive choices in Canada.
Bad health habits are literally taking years off your life, according to a new Canadian study. But we have strategies for curbing the worst offenders.
We have bad news and good news. First, the bad: whether it’s being a couch potato, smoking, letting one glass of Chardonnay turn into the whole bottle, or indulging in a giant bowl of chips and dip, our most beloved vices are killing us. Or rather, they’re drastically reducing our life expectancy, says a new study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine. It found that smoking, eating junk food, vegging out and drinking can actually slash almost six years off the life expectancy of both men and women.
The study, authored by Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, focused on the worst habits, which contributed to nearly half of all deaths reported in Canada. Using a predictive algorithm Manuel and his team created, population health surveys at the individual level were examined to learn just how dangerous these vices can be. The findings were dramatic—“smoking, by itself, was associated with 32% to 39% of the difference in life expectancy across social groups,” the study says.
But that’s where the good news comes in: though their impact can’t be understated, you can combat unhealthy habits—or at least tame them. Here are the 4 guilty pleasures that are worst for your health, and what you can do to curb them.
While only about 20 per cent of Canada’s total population smokes, it is still the reigning health hazard for Canadians. When lighting up again, remember that the overall loss of life expectancy is an estimated 2.8 years. Coming up with a smoking cessation plan can help you butt out.
2. Eating Junk Food
A poor diet can shave off 1.2 years of your life, so we think it’s safe to say that giving into your sweet tooth at every craving is not a good call. To head off that 3pm junk food craving, don’t skip meals, and keep healthier snack options on-hand.
3. Physical Inactivity
With all the hours you put in at the office, it can be hard to find the opportunity and motivation to head to the gym. But yoga, Pilates, running or even going on 15-minute walks will add an extra 2.6 years onto your life. The solution? Changing your perspective.
4. Consuming Alcohol
Drinking has the least impact of these four vices—drinking contributed to a two-week decrease in life expectancy, but we know heavy drinking impacts your health in other ways. That’s why it’s important to drink with restraint.
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.