Women's Health Luncheon Promotes Prevention

Fueling their bodies and minds, more than 450 attendees gathered at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for the Mount Sinai Women's Health Day of Learning and Luncheon to discover more about the role of prevention in achieving their optimal health. The morning started with three concurrent seminars given by Mount Sinai specialists in the areas of gastroenterology, cardiology, and gynecology, followed by lunch, featuring keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. "We've been hosting this event for more than 25 years," Michael Brodman, MD, Chairman of OBGYN and host of the "Hot and Cold Truth" seminar, said in anticipation of the occasion. "It's about promoting women's health and advancing diagnostics and treatment for women."

"The Heart of the Matter" offered a wealth of tips and insights on cardiovascular health. "Until 20 years ago women were not in clinical trials; research was based on middle-aged men," said Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, pointing out the health community's progress in recognizing women's needs. "But we're not little men; were biologically different." Dr. McLaughlin also underscored the importance of getting sufficient vitamin D, as a deficiency of it was recently linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and consuming three times a week servings of blueberries and strawberries, which have demonstrated a 32 percent reduction of heart attack risk.

Jill Kalman, MD, focused on heart disease risk factors, which include high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, family history, smoking, and obesity. Lori Croft, MD, added her perspectives on the new statin guidelines for lowering cholesterol, emphasizing the need to define who is at risk, but also reminding attendees, "We think we're invincible, but we need to take care of ourselves."

The "Hot and Cold Truth" seminar included insights on the controversy over hormone replacement, and "Guts and Good Health" focused on colon cancer prevention measures, such as increasing fiber intake, decreasing red meat consumption, following the recommended guidelines on calcium and vitamin D, and getting screened with a colonoscopy.

Arianna Huffington on the Importance of Life/Work Balance

Opening her keynote address, Arianna Huffington expressed her delight at having been introduced by Barbara Murphy, MD, whose 2012 appointment as Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine made her the first female chair of medicine of an academic medical center in New York City. Huffington then launched into a stern message about the importance of establishing an optimal work/life balance, anchored in healthy sleep habits.

"I've been a sleep evangelist since 2007 when I had my own rude wakeup call: I actually fainted from exhaustion, hit my head on my desk, broke my cheek bone, and got three stitches," she said. "That was the beginning of my journey to reevaluate what I was doing and what I was prioritizing."

In addition to now getting adequate rest most nights, Huffington safeguards her sleep against disruption from electronics. Calling the all-too-common habit of sleeping with an iPhone or Blackberry an "absolute no-no," she advised attendees against even checking their phones if they wake up in the middle of the night. "Even if you go back to sleep, your sleep isn't going to be as deep and recharging because you have allowed your day world to intrude on your night world," she said. "My phone is as far away from my bed as possible. My bedroom is my sacred space—no devices."

Huffington also discussed her strategy for de-stressing waking hours by modifying our definition of productivity at the office. "There's no such thing as multitasking. It's actually ‘task switching,' and it's the most stressful thing you can do, and it's the least efficient thing you can do. Be present with what you're doing. You're not paying people for stamina; you're paying them for judgment. I'd rather have someone come to the office for six hours and give 100 percent than 16 hours and give 40 percent."

In order to keep workday stress at bay, Huffington recommended taking naps, consider your spirituality and to find your place of peace and spend more time there. Her comments served as a poignant conclusion to the morning's health seminars by empowering attendees to lead a "revolution" in a redefinition of success that includes not only money and power, but also wellbeing. "You see so many successful people sacrificing their health along the way to success," she said. "The women in this room can be the critical mass that can get us to the tipping point of reinventing the world we live in."

Help us continue the women's health prevention momentum, by making a contribution to Mount Sinai's Women's Health campaign. Thank you, and a special thanks to our donors and attendees of the 2013 Women's Health Day of Learning and Luncheon.

Guts and Good Health

GI video spotlightDr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, Dr. Michelle K. Kim and Laura Manning offer a guide for gastrointestinal health and cancer prevention in women in this podcast. Watch video

The Hot and Cold Truth

obgyn spotlightDr. Michael Brodman discusses the issues surrounding hormonal changes and the resulting effects on women's health. Watch video

The Heart of the Matter

heart spotlightDr. Lori Croft, Dr. Jill Kalman, Dr. Annapoorna Kini, Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin and Dr. Roxana Mehran discuss women's cardiovascular concerns in this podcast. Watch video