The Best Way is to Prevent One From Happening
Although February is American Heart Month, Every Month Should be Heart Month
As promised, here is the last post segment from February, which was American Heart Month. We had a few personal diversions in February and into early March which are the reasons for the delay in getting this last post to you. We’re fine now and back on track for more inspirational ideas on improving your life and lifestyle.
Boomers and all others, please share this post with all your friends, acquaintances and family members, women and men alike. The life you save may be your own, or someone you love.
“Nothing matters more than more years together.”
Super Bowl Ad, February 2023
Officially, we’ve said goodbye to winter and welcomed spring, however, much of the country is still mired in the throes of rain, snow and cold weather. Here in the U.S., the incidence of heart attacks is highest in the cold months than any other time of the year due to respiratory infections such as influenza, pneumonia and COVID-19.
It’s a well-known fact that respiratory infections endanger heart health and trigger events such as heart attacks, especially in those with underlying cardiac conditions.
When one considers these statements, they immediately place it smack in the middle of anyone at any age, and not just us Boomers. Heart attacks are not just for the older population, they are becoming increasingly prevalent in all age groups for reasons such as lifestyle choices, genetics, left-over stress from the pandemic, financial pressures, etc.
As you’ve read in our previous posts, my BoomerGuy survived a major heart attack called the “widow maker.” The chances of survival from an event such as this are quite rare. To further complicate matters, he actually coded three different times. That’s where the heart stops beating, and death is at your doorstep.
Since he was a child, he has lived with a “heart murmur” or more commonly known today as atrial fibrillation (Afib). The condition never slowed him down as he was always quite active physically and throughout his professional career, traveled extensively both domestically and internationally.
With Afib as an underlying condition, he still had no forewarning: no chest pains, no dizziness, no numbness, no light headedness, no shortness of breath, etc. It came on suddenly and forcefully. The story of his survival is one of miracles, which is being memorialized in a book soon to be published.
He has been under the care of his cardiologist who saved his life seven years ago and who has managed his care quite diligently through a series of annual tests and a fluent cocktail of prescribed medications. One of these was a blood thinner by the name of Eliquis. For people suffering from Afib and having had a heart incident, it is important to reduce the risk of having a stroke by taking blood thinners. Unfortunately, there are side effects of taking blood thinners that some people consider more harmful than preventing the risk of a stroke itself, such as excessive bleeding from an accidental fall or cut, bruising, brain fog, extreme fatigue, malaise, weight gain and others.
And then along comes the WATCHMAN. It is an FDA approved device which is implanted through a minimally invasive intra-cardiac procedure to mitigate the risk of stroke by “sealing” off that portion of the atrium considered to be the most prominent in the production of clots which are the culprits behind stroke risk.
Following extensive consultation with his cardiologist, my BoomerGuy underwent the WATCHMAN procedure a year ago. It was an amazing textbook success. And here is the major benefit, he is no longer on blood thinners. He has had no lingering effects from the surgery, and his overall health has improved significantly having ditched the blood thinners.
He is now an ambassador for the local hospital where the WATCHMAN was performed, his cardiologist and cath-lab team, and Boston Scientific, the company who manufacturers and distributes the WATCHMAN device. Who says you’re too old to donate your time.
After all is said and done, his team of cardiologists attributed his heart incident to genetics. Both of his parents passed away in their early 70’s under the same conditions. But for the millions who are living their lives to the fullest extent, and who could be unknowingly at risk, here are several tips for staying healthy and out of harms’ way for a serious cardiac episode.
BE AWARE. The most common symptoms include chest pain, pain radiating down the arm or back, and immediate perspiration. Those less common can include jaw pain, indigestion or heartburn with or without chest pain and of course, shortness of breath. Be aware of your body and seek immediate medical attention.
DIET & EXERCISE. Follow a heart-healthy diet by avoiding processed foods and those high in cholesterol. Get at least 30 minutes of brisk cardiovascular exercise five times a week. You might even wish to invest in a wearable watch to monitor your physical activity, e.g., 10,000 steps a day.
PROTECTION. Get vaccinated against respiratory diseases and get regular checkups at your dentist to prevent tooth decay and infection. Most important, however, are regular heart and health checkups.
MODERATION. Come on folks, be conscious of your food portions. Obesity is also a disease of overindulging.
MEDICATIONS. Whether they be prescribed from your primary doctor or specialist don’t skip your meds and maintain vigilance on your refills.
BLOOD PRESSURE. In my opinion this is one of the most important things to monitor. Purchase a blood pressure cuff and check your BP at least once a day. Record the results and share them with your physician.
SCREENING. This is probably the ultimate preventative approach to diagnosing heart disease and damage. If you come from a family where there is a prevalence of heart conditions, you owe it to yourself to check with your local hospital and schedule a screening appointment today.
“Your heart is the most beautiful thing on earth, take care of it”
In this fast paced and crazy world, stay relevant, never give up and love with all your heart.
Your BoomerGal, Connie.
Loma Linda University Medical Center
A resource for comments on heart health and heart attack prevention