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Monday, February 13, 2012

Step 3: Take this Post to Heart about Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and every minute a person will die from it. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and is a major cause of disability. This week is Valentine's Day and Brian & I hope our population-we™ readers will take this post to heart.

Know Your Numbers
Living a healthier lifestyle and knowing your numbers (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) can help combat this disease. Don't know your numbers? Request them from your health care professional on your next visit. If budget is an issue, take advantage of health fairs at your work and in your community. To help combat heart disease, Walgreens is offering free blood pressure checks this month. Walgreens will also donate $1 to the American Heart Association as part of its Way to Well Commitment.

Pay Attention to Family History
Another key component to this ongoing battle is knowing and doing something about your family history. Most people lives have been touched by heart disease, Brian & I families are no different. What follows is our accounts with heart disease.

My Grandpa Bohan was a retired farmer. Like most, he worked hard but ate a diet high in saturated fat. He raised cattle for a while -- so beef was always prevelent. In his 60s, he would have his first glimpse of heart disease, when he received his first pacemaker. He did become more active and adopted a healthier diet. He would walk around the lake in town daily and begun to eat everything in moderation. I can always remember grandpa checking his blood pressure and eating a cantelope, bannana and grapefruit. However, in his 80s he would be diagnoised with congestive heart failure. Not giving up. Now, he added a supplement into his diet and metamucil. He would have another pacemaker put in at 89, which enabled him to go on a family reunion to his homeland of Ireland. He lived a long life full of weddings, vacations, graduations and birth announcements. Heart disease took my Grandpa Bohan at 96 years of age.

Eat Healthy
The biggest step and best weapons in the fight against heart disease is a healthy diet. The American Heart Association offers guidelines to help make smart choices to benefit your heart and your overall health. Visit their Nutrition Center for details.

Embrace a Positive Outlook
Eating healthy is key but having a postive outlook is even more important. I just wanted to share what anyone at any age can start implementing so you can have a long prosperous life like my grandpa. Grandpa Bohan found the teachings of Dean Ornish, M.D., helpful in living with heart disease.

Dr. Ornish offers advice on the power of positive imagery, which the doctor provides in his award-winning book. The key is imagine yourself as a healthy person. Here's Dr. Ornish's ideas for envisioning a long healthy life for yourself:

  •  Imagine the way you'll look and sound when your older;
  •  The activities you'll participate in;
  •  The hugs of friends and family in the future;
  •  The taste of your favorite drink as you relax;
  •  Watch a sunset and reflect on your long life; and
  •  Add more detail to include images of: a healthy heart shape, a sharp alert mind, very strong muscles and a ready smile.

Get Active
Chose not to be a couch potato. Brian & I joined a new gym in September. More recently we committed to participate in our gym's Urban Active (UA) "Get Active Challenge." I know for us both -- our motivation comes from knowing what quality of life Grandpa Bohan and Uncle Luigi (Brian's uncle who passed away at age 45 from heart disease) both had. So, thanks to other bloggers in the challenge and support from the head UA trainer JB Bowen; Brian and I are choosing a heart healthy diet and more active lifestyle.

No matter what, remember Foo Fighters, "One of these days your heart will stop and play its final beat." It is up to you, what steps you take to preserve a healthy you in the coming decades. We welcome population-we™ readers to join us in our next step. Step 3, chose a more active and heart healthy lifestyle.
(Editor's note:  Brian & I are not health care professionals. This post is our opinion on how our readers can embrace a more heart healthy lifestyle. This is the third in a series of blog posts about UA's Get Active Challenge. )
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown and Brian Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
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