World Heart Day- Share the Power
After living abroad in Nigeria for three years, my husband and I returned home to resume our lives in the U.S. We slowly but surely got back into the routines of work and daily life. I was teaching 5th grade at the time. Early one October morning, I received an urgent call to get to the hospital as my mother had suffered a heart attack while working out at her local YMCA. Her symptoms included a numbness or tingling in her arms, as well as the feeling that an elephant was standing on her chest. Fortunately, a doctor was also working out at the time and he was able to help my mom until paramedics could arrive. I was in shock as I called my teaching partner to help get a substitute teacher to cover my class, and immediately rushed to the hospital. It was a wake-up call that I had never envisioned receiving, especially since my mom was a young 60 years old at the time and an incredibly active person as well as a healthy eater and non-smoker. When I arrived at the hospital, I was relieved to know that mom was in good hands and would receive great care. In an interesting coincidence, my mom’s doctor, Dr. Momah, happened to be from Nigeria. During mom’s subsequent surgery, Dr. Momah inserted two stents to repair a kinked artery. It’s been fifteen years now, and fortunately mom continues to be quite healthy.
My mom’s heart attack was unusual because it was the result of a kinked artery, and not her lifestyle choices. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all take heed. A heart attack can happen to anyone. According to the American Heart Association, there are factors you can change, and others you cannot change that may put you at risk. By making healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce some of the changeable factors that put you at risk of having a heart attack. These include lifestyle choices such as not smoking, reducing alcohol intake, making healthy food choices, reducing stress, and staying active. Factors you can’t change include increasing age, gender, and hereditary factors. It’s important to understand the risks so you can prevent a possible heart attack.
Warning signs that may indicate a heart attack is happening can include chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, and other signs such as nausea or lightheadedness. What should you do if you experience any of these symptoms? Calling 911 is almost always the fastest and best way to ensure lifesaving treatment.
After her heart attack, my mom said the best advice she got was not to be so afraid of another episode that she didn’t live life fully. I’m happy to report that she is living a full life with travel and an active lifestyle. Her heart attack has not slowed her down.
In 2000, the World Heart Federation founded “World Heart Day” to bring attention to cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of death in the world. September 29th is designated as World Heart Day, raising awareness and encouraging people to take action. The goal is to help people live longer, better, heart healthy lives. The important thing to take note of is that even the smallest lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your heart health. By sharing this important information, we can inspire each other to become more heart healthy. On World Heart Day, make a healthy heart your goal, and don’t forget to share the power! What small change will you make on your way to better heart health?
Written By: Susan O’Leary
Kensington Gardens Estate Living Retirement Community
Published on Sep 25, 2017.