A Good Heart is better than a Pump of Gold

A Good Heart is better than a Pump of Gold
By: Valerie Patrick

Every year one million Americans suffer heart attacks (a sudden interruption in heart’s blood supply). Heart disease is the leading killer in American women. Heart health started to affect my life at the age of 9. My paternal grandfather died of a massive heart attack. Experiencing this event peaked my interest in cardiac health. Therefore, after graduation from high school I enrolled in a nursing program in an effort to further understand the mechanics of the heart. After completing nursing school, I obtained employment in the Cardiac Care Unit to solidify my quest for more knowledge. At age 28, my paternal grandmother died of heart failure. Both of my grandparents were obese and lived sedimentary lifestyles. After extensive study and work experience, I learned that there are variables that can be manipulated to achieve heart health.

In 1995, my husband was diagnosed with high blood pressure, borderline elevated cholesterol, and obesity. I knew at this point it was time for a change. We researched weight loss, nutrition plans, vitamin supplements and exercise regimens, finally coming up with a regime that suited us. After three months and sixty pounds between the both of us, our lives have drastically improved. We have more energy, a more active life, a more positive outlook and better health all around.

When you bring up heart disease, most people think of a heart attack. But there are many conditions that can determine the heart’s ability to do its job. These include coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, and heart failure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are major controllable risk factors for heart disease. Being overweight, obese, or physically inactive all increase risk. Controlling blood sugar and choosing not to smoke will also increase good heart health. Every year in the United States, more than 135,000 people die from smoking related health complications.

The key to preventing heart disease, is a healthy lifestyle. This includes a nutritious diet, at least thirty minutes of exercise at least three days out of the week, choosing not to smoke (even second hand), and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. Friends and family can be an asset to helping make lifestyle changes to achieve true heart health. It is also important to include spiritual experiences in your quest for a healthy heart, such as enjoying a sunrise or sunset, prayer to, or continuing to involve yourself in meaningful spiritual rituals.
Diet was a key element for me. I ate three meals along with three snacks, plenty of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, plant oils, walnuts, and fish a couple of times a week. Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress but you can look for ways to lower your stress level. It is important to find out what your personal stressors are. One way to better manage stress is to keep a stress journal. Keeping this journal can help you find out what is causing your stress and what levels of stress you are experiencing on a daily basis. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or find ways to handle it better. For example, take slow deep breathes, soak in a warm bath, listen to soothing music, have a warm drink that does not contain alcohol or caffeine, have a massage, get plenty of sleep, and stay connected to your family, friends, and other important people in your life.

My friends and family have seen the positive changes in my husband and I, and it has motivated them to make the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve true heart health. We have started a community healthy living initiative that has been a great success. Many of our friends have lost weight, become more active, and a few have even managed to come off of pharmaceutical medications because of their lifestyle choices.
My goal is to make a good heart pump gold on global scale.

Citations

http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress/May11,2010/Healthwise

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/strength-tough-times Review by James Beckerman MD, FACC, May 12, 2012.

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-visual-guide-to-heart-disease 2005-2012 Slideshow:A Visual Gide to Heart Disease.