Friday, February 19, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

Magnet # 172:  Lindsay Archer's Shy Drat

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  N/A - given to me, free

Valentine's Day may be over, but the entire month of February is still American Heart Month.  Ever since 1963, at Congress' requirement, the President has declared this monthlong event to increase cardiovascular health awareness.  This is critical, as cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than anything else.  Yep, automobile accidents, cancer, diabetes, AIDS, murder, goldfish swallowing - none of them comes close to taking the number of lives this disease does.  It kills a person every minute.  And, yes, I might crack a joke about it, but this really is no laughing matter - especially if you have a family member or loved one who has been diagnosed with heart disease.

So what sort of activities can one engage in to properly observe this event?  For starters, the American Heart Association recommends learning CPR and how to operate an automate external defibrillator, both of which can save those experiencing cardiac arrest.  Even if you've learned and have forgotten, as I have, this might be a good time to brush up.  This is also a good time to consider adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the likelihood of having cardiovascular disease and if you're able to quit, in only a few years you'll have the same likelihood as non-smokers of developing heart disease.  There are certain foods that can also help you achieve a healthier heart, like colorful fruits and vegetables, fishes such as salmon and trout, and nuts, when eaten in moderation.  Any food items which feature the American Heart Association's heart-check mark have been approved by the organization and have low amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.  And when you prepare food at home, try steaming, grilling, or baking instead of frying, which may taste great, but will add fat and calories to your meal.  Maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise can also help lower your chances of developing heart disease - I must admit, on both of these counts, I could improve my lifestyle.  You can even consider joining in a physical event sponsored by the American Heart Association, such as Start! Heart Walk of Jump Rope For Heart.  It's a little odd, but studies have shown that flossing might even help prevent heart problems, as those with gum disease may have a greater chance of getting heart disease.  Some think that the organisms that cause disease in the gums can also travel to the heart, likewise infesting it, or possibly resulting in fatty build-up there.  There is also a belief that the agents the body constantly produces to fight inflammation will damage the heart over time.  So take care of your mouth, and you take care of your heart!  And if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol level, this is definitely the time to consider taking steps to lower them.  And if you do have a healthy heart, you can consider signing up as an organ donor.  Hopefully, we'll all live long, healthy lives.  But if we go early, it might be nice to help save a few of those who are on life support.

I did manage to miss the most important day of this monthlong event on the 5th, National Wear Red Day - it can be tough keeping track of all of these days.  But when I passed a group of women at work all decked out in red, I had to comment and they explained what was going on.  And though that day is over, there is still some time left in February to get in the spirit.  So, get out there and start working on a healthier heart.  And don't forget to bring up the importance of heart health with your loved ones - after all, their chance of being killed by this disease is greater than the likelihood of being killed by anything else - a sobering thought indeed.

3 comments:

  1. Cute! I don't think I've seen that Drat image before. ;-)

    I don't think I have your contact info and don't see a way of emailing you via this site. Can you send me an email at drouk at emory dot edu? You'll probably need my cell # for MegaCon next month (guessing Lindsay and I will be there before you).

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  2. Elizabeth,
    In case you didn't know it, both of your maternal great-grandmothers died of heart disease. Of course, they were both in their 80s.
    Mom

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  3. Well, you know Linz - she's done like a thousand pics. It's impossible to keep track of them all. And the email is sent!

    I guess I didn't know that, so it's that much more important for us to practice heart healthy habits.

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