Heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women. Acccording to the Heart Foundation, women are THREE TIMES more likely to die of it than breast cancer.
In my book, anything that takes someone before they reach triple digits and receive their telegram from the Queen is a bloody waste.
The importance of a healthy heart cannot be understated particularly given that heart disease is largely preventable.
I’ve talked before about risk factors: being overweight (ahhh… shit!), being physically inactive (hmmm….), high blood pressure (oops again) and high cholesterol. Of course a family history is another factor needing to be taken into consideration. As a female heading my 40s, I also need to understand that – again according to the Heart Foundation – there are links between menopause and heart disease.
I’m working on all of these factors. I’ve been adopting an increasingly low cholesterol diet. I’m trying to get back into regular exercise and I am – as always – trying to lose weight. (Sadly I cannot do anything about my age!)
Heart disease is a cause particularly close to my heart (pun intended) as my father suffered from related problems for much of his adult life. Fortunately (for my brother, his daughter and I) his problems weren’t congenital, but rather the result of rheumatic fever as a child which damaged the walls of the pumping chamber of his heart.
And, although not scientifically relevant, I think that having a healthy heart is also about more than the physical and physiological.
My niece was four years old when my father had his heart transplant. As my brother, my mother and I prepared to head to the hospital late at night (to await the arrival of the donor organ) her mother explained to my niece that her beloved Poppie was to get a new heart.
I wondered what this meant to a four year old mind. And I worried. We so often talk of our heart in a romantic way. To her a heart was probably a pretty red shape. It was where we held our loved ones. What if she thought that all memories and love for her (and us) disappeared with Poppie’s own heart?
I’m not really sure what she did think, but my father had almost another 11 years with her (and us).
It reminds me though that – heart health is (at least in my mind) about more than the tangible. I like to think I’m doing my bit to live a stress-free life and (although usually cynical) I’ve started yoga and meditation in an attempt to calm my mind and strengthen my spirit and soul.
Who knows? Every little bit must help and I’m sure it can’t do any harm. Right?
Are you heart healthy?
What do you do to contribute to your heart health?