If you came into our office on February 1st, 2019, you would have noticed that our staff was dressed in red.  That was partly because our normal Friday scrub color is red.  The other reason was to celebrate National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about women and heart disease.  Luckily, they both fell on the same day.

So, why celebrate it? What do the eyes and heart disease have in common?  How do they both work together?

Did you know that heart disease is the cause of death in 1 out of 3 women each year in the U.S? Ninety percent of women have at least one risk factor that can contribute to heart disease. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • High Cholesterol
  • A fatty diet
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Little to no physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use

Other possible heart related eye conditions can include cataracts, amaurosis fugax (a painless temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes), permanent vision loss, retinal damage, and retinopathy.  In addition, there have been some studies that show coronary artery disease (CAD) may be linked to age-related macular degeneration.  More severe conditions that are related to eye conditions include stroke or even death.

Having a full, dilated eye exam is an easy, non-invasive way for Dr. Burns to look at the vascular system and blood flow inside the eye.  He’ll be able to see if there are any hemorrhages, as well as possible plaques or emboli that might be trapped in those fragile blood vessels, caused from heart disease. Detection of a plaque or emboli on a routine eye exam can help prevent the patient from having a stroke.

What can you do to lower your risk of heart disease?

  • Regular exercise
  • A proper diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber
  • Quit smoking; if you don’t smoke, don’t start
  • Limit alcohol use
  • If you do drink alcohol, consider drinking a glass of red wine; studies have shown that a glass of red wine may help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure and provide antioxidants. Let’s face it, that’s a win-win all the way around!

As I write this, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” by Captain and Tennille keeps popping into my mind, and it’s funny but it makes so much sense.  Love your heart and eyes, so they will love each other in return.  Happy Cupid’s Day!!!