Ask the Expert: Taking Care of Mommy’s Heart


Moms have lengthy to-do lists for their children that include a multitude of doctor visits throughout the year, school work, extracurricular activities, summer plans, etc. The list goes on and on. 

With all the healthcare appointments for children and attention on children’s health and well-being, women often neglect one critical aspect of motherhood – taking care of themselves. Let’s be real, when is the last time you had your cholesterol checked? 

In addition, the stress of doing it all and taking care of yourself can seem overwhelming. Dr. James Lam, the cardiology specialist at Ochsner Medical Center – Hancock, knows all too well the stress that impacts women’s health. 

Women are taking on a lot of stress as caregivers, for their children and their parents.

His family knows the stressors as well. He’s welcoming three grandbabies this year. (And his daughter-in-law experienced preeclampsia.) They, too, have a busy year ahead.

The Heart of the Matter

Dr. Lam said cardiovascular issues in women of childbearing age are very uncommon, though women who suffer from certain heart-related conditions during pregnancy are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. This information is up and coming, and he believes we will hear about more research in the future, and that raising awareness about this topic is important to our community.

Jane Christine, LPN and Dr James Lam

While most women in their childbearing years do not need to worry about cardiovascular issues now, they do need to be aware of the power they have in prevention. The reality is that people tend to put off their health, and they worry about their hearts when they are much older. The best way to practice self-care as a mom is to take care of your body, right now. Period. Make taking care of your heart a priority while you have greater chances of lowering your risk.

Additional risks in regard to women and heart disease include preeclampsia, persistent hypertension, pre-term delivery, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and early menopause. 

Dr. Lam is a big proponent of healthy living and moderation. To reduce the chance of heart disease, he recommends the following key habits, in this order:

  1. No nicotine. 
  2. Moderate alcohol. Recommended daily intake for women is one beer or a 4 oz glass of wine (yep, that includes Wine Down Wednesday).
  3. Regular exercise. The key is fitness.
  4. Weight control.

He says if a person adheres to these habits, he or she can reduce any chance of sickness by up to 80% (That’s significant! We don’t have drugs that lower risk by 80%).

Dr. Lam recognizes that it’s not easy for women to make this a priority for themselves and their children.

Mothers play such a critical role. They need to be supported. Every mother needs a village.

Gulf Coast Moms Blog is thankful to have so many wonderful healthcare providers on the Gulf Coast to help our families live healthy lives. We have partnered with Ochsner Hancock for this post. Dr. Lam is a true gem in the community. His goals are to lead by example by living an active, healthy lifestyle and to motivate his patients to take care of themselves. We know doctors see so many patients in a day, and Dr. Lam says he is thankful that Ochsner allows him much more time to spend with each of his patients. “You’ve got to look at the whole picture, and the more time I spend with each patient, the better I am able to help them.”

Dr. James Lam has practiced for 40 years and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine for Cardiovascular Disease, the Board of Nuclear Cardiology, Cardiovascular Computed Tomography as well as the National Board of Electrocardiography. Dr Lam is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and is a member of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

He practices at Ochsner Hancock.  To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lam, call 228-231-3705.