“Two heart attacks, that’s what it took for my wake up call”, Gary disclosed to me in a local supermarket recently.
Gary is a North Side resident who I have known for more years than I care to recount, and seeing him and listening to his testimony was a witness to the wonderful concept of a man taking responsibility and taking care of himself. Consistency is a principle he has adopted and one I have written about in a previous column.
His words were sombre to hear. How does one recover from a heart attack, and, equally important, how can one take proactive measures to prevent a future attack?
The heart is the organ responsible for transporting blood and oxygen to all parts of the body. Keeping a healthy heart, therefore, requires extra care.
There are certain precautions that we can take to help avoid a heart attack and to keep the heart healthy. These are simple and easy to apply, seeped in commonsense, yet seem to be sadly neglected.
Basic components of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system include the following:
Limit high-fat foods that clog our arteries, causing a build up of plaque. Gary’s example was perfect. He spoke of a drain becoming clogged from all the things that go down it; how much more our veins and arteries become clogged by the foods we eat. So, in spite of your love for deep-fried chicken, French fries, patties, pizza, and conch fritters, know that your heart could be under attack because of your diet. Gary’s diet, he reported, consists of fish, chicken, lots of vegetables, fruits and red wine. Life is good!
Know that your heart is a muscle and, unless used, will weaken, develop irregular beats and not perform to its maximum potential unless engaged in regular, consistent, heart-warming activity. We are not talking boot-camp style extreme fitness, a simple 30 to 60 minute interval of walking, biking, swimming, dancing or other aerobic activity consistently will benefit your heart. Gary walks with discipline five to six times per week.
Finally, keeping a happy, positive outlook is synonymous with heart health. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, Proverbs tells us. We pay so much attention to diet and exercise, let’s be careful to address the condition of our hearts emotionally. Be aware of hidden resentments, anger, bitterness, and grief which injure the heart and take measures to assure a “happy heart”.
For improved heart health, whether physical or emotional, e-mail [email protected]