By Sraddha Prativadi, MD
The root of my Sanskrit name “Sraddha” comes from the Sanskrit root “hrd” which means heart. I have long been fascinated with the workings of the heart both physical and metaphysical. I remember as a second grader being first fascinated with the physical workings of the heart and enthusiastically preparing a report for my teacher on the anatomy and blood flow of the heart. My passion for the heart, with its relentlessly contracting myocardium, the gatekeepers we call valves, intricate electrical system and amazing ability to adapt to conditions like pregnancy and childbirth, culminates every year in an opportunity to share the importance of tending to this vital organ with the women I care for. This month, brings attention to the Go Red campaign from the American Heart Association and the efforts to raise awareness of cardiovascular health issues in women. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, a fact I often have to remind patients of when I am barraged with questions about various, much less prevalent conditions that are yellow-journalized by the popular media.
I believe that prevention is better than a cure. This is most true with heart disease. And, like with most things in life, it is not the big, dramatic things that we do, but rather the small, consistent daily habits that we have that determine the trajectory of our cardiovascular health. So while it is important to recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest, it is important to develop lifestyle habits that will help create cardiovascular health. Still have those New Year’s resolutions of exercising 5-6 times per week for at least 30-45 minutes, eating a diet of whole foods rich with fruits and vegetables, minimizing stress and exposure to negative, cynical people and influences, and getting 8 hours of sleep a night? Turns out these are all good for heart health. Make sure you have established an empowering relationship with a health care professional and discuss your risk factors for heart disease.
As time has passed, my fascination with the heart progressed to one on the metaphysical plane. Is it important to tend to the heart not just in terms of the hardworking muscle that it is, oxygen, blood and various lipid study panels? Of course it is. I believe people do die of a broken heart . . . or worse – living a less than fulfilling and vibrant life while not listening to one’s heart. Listen to your heart, or as is said in India “dil ki baat”, the speech of the heart, or “heart talk” Silencing one’s mind, self judgement and need for external approval and getting in tune with your “dil ki baat” leads to a more authentic life that is filled with purpose, meaning and passion that permeate all your activities and relationships. How exciting this is when it is achieved in one’s life!! Allow the love to pour out from your heart and resonate with those around you. Journal daily about dreams and aspirations that you have, and when the opportunities arise to manifest them in your life, grab them!
Find the love within yourself and love yourself first.
And for those of you still searching for an external source of love and romance this month, I leave you with this
beautiful poem from Rumi,
Ever since I heard my first fairy tale
I started looking for you
Not knowing how blind that was
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere
They are in each other all along
Here’s to your heart health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually this February. Go Red for Women!
Dr. Prativadi practices at Madonna OB/GYN. she can be reached at www.madonnaobgyn.com.