“Forty is too young for a heart attack!” I recently posted that message on Facebook after learning that a childhood friend experienced severe chest pains and a possible heart attack. First, let me tell you he’s fine. No heart attack, but high cholesterol, high stress level and a little overweight (although he won’t admit to the latter). Second, let me tell you I was shocked to learn that several of my friends have experience similar symptoms, including a friend who posted that he had a heart attack at 35, followed by a cardiac arrest two months later.
Not to be Debbie Downer here, but I thought I’d share these not-so-fun facts:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability.
- Heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women aged 25–44 years and the second leading cause of death among women aged 45–64 years.
- And according to the American Heart Association, more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined.
Alarming and scary; yet at the same time empowering. I’m now on a quest to learn more and change some of my own (unhealthy) habits. Good timing, really. February is Heart Health Month, so information and resources are easily accessible and readily available (not that a good google search wouldn’t help me 11 other months out of the year).
I know the heart of good health is good nutrition, but it’s the one thing I struggle most with. This month, I’m recommitting to making healthier choices in the kitchen. Somehow, someway I’m going to incorporate more fruits and veggies into mine – and my families, diet. I’m going to smart small by first focusing on healthier snacking.
When my friend’s doctor discussed his “life stressors” it made me think of my own level of stress and how I can deal with it in a healthier way. I’m going to miss my midnight chocolate binges, but will benefit from healthier habits. This list of 10 positive healthy habits is a good reminder for all of us. And who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh?
The thought of losing a friend at 40 is enough to get me thinking differently about my heart health. Maybe it will get you thinking too. If you want to do something simple, Go Red or join me in The Million Hearts, an initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016. I figured both are easy enough to do in celebration of my friend’s non heart attack.