Every disease has a fundraiser; every disease has its “month.
It’s February; so we are simultaneously swamped with symbols, images and urges to protect the heart as portrayed in St. Valentine mythology.
But if you truly love someone – and care for yourself, too - the best Valentine of all is a plan to help the real heart you love also live a full life.
February is the federal government’s official American Heart Month, and the National Heart Association doubles down on that awareness initiative with the “Go Red For Women” month.
What I have learned over these many years of being a registered nurse is that every month of your life should be dedicated to keeping your heart healthy.
Should we not speak plainly to each other? Self-preservation is as plain as this. If you are going to die of anything other than old age, it’s most likely because your clogged, damaged heart no longer can keep the rest of your body ticking. Hearts going bad kill more women than all forms of cancer combined. I take that information seriously.
It’s so important an issue that I plan to spend the rest of the month nagging you about this. My husband says I nag very gently.
In fact, he’s the big reason I celebrate my zealous views about heart health.
Nearly 20 years ago my husband had a heart attack after quitting a very stressful job, and it was a deeply frightening time in our lives.
Even then I was grateful it happened when it did because there were such amazing advances in cardiac care. The early 1990s seems just like yesterday, but that was 20 years ago. Twenty years ago almost seems like ancient history when it comes to heart medicine. He has been followed closely by a cardiologist and has had multiple angiograms and angioplasties with placement of stents. We are blessed that he is doing very well; he follows doctor’s orders, takes his medications, exercises regularly, eats right, sleeps seven or eight hours every night and has learned how to manage the stress in his life. I nag but only gently.
That experience with him taught me an important lesson. Being heart healthy is a way of life, not merely a medical course of action. We know so much more about the things we can do to be healthier. We know what smoking, stress, sedentary lifestyle, sleep and diet can do to a heart.
Your life is your property. People waiting for the perfect medical cure for all heart conditions are missing the point. I think the medical community is sometimes at a disadvantage. When the doctor sees the patient, perhaps after a cardiac event, it’s too late for prevention. But the patient can be educated on how to be heart healthy. But it’s up to you, not “medical science.”
A magazine called “Prevention” has been on the market since the 1950s and subscribes to healthy living as its underlying principle. But it is darn near impossible to get the general public to heed that advice. If they had, every year there would be 500,000 or so more folks alive.
My point is that healthy living is really not a new concept. We’re ignoring old knowledge that remains true.
So now you know I nag about heart health. In part 2 next time, what does “heart healthy life” look like?
Who am I, and why would a person listen to me? Both fair questions. I’m Christine Hammerlund and I’ve been a nurse for years. I have delivered babies, saved lives, and cared for hundreds of patients through their medical triumphs and tragedies. Now I run Assured Healthcare at http://www.assuredhealthcare.com. We're a multi-million dollar medical staff provider in Illinois. I live in Antioch, Ill. Got health questions for me, whether large or small? I’ll answer. Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/AssuredHealthcareStaffing and Chrishammerlund@yahoo.com