A healthy heart

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 Permalink

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?

  • Char
    August 27, 2013

    I think you’re right about heart health being more than just physical. I’ve read somewhere that people with depression and other similar conditions have a higher incidence of heart disease. So the old saying about dying of a broken heart isn’t that far wrong.

    • Debbish
      August 27, 2013

      Absolutely. I guess it’s like the studies that find that meditation and positive thinking can help those suffering from cancer etc. (Although I don’t fully – or at all – understand it!)

  • Jess
    August 27, 2013

    Totally agree it is more then just physical! Scary statistics! My bet is many women would underestimate how profound they are for women. Breast cancer, of course very important and concerning issue, gets a lot more media. Also amazing how preventable a lot of the risk factors are, I was recently talking to someone who was telling me it was ‘fate’ that they would suffer heart problems as their father and grandfather both had heart attacks. He didnt want to consider that he could make lifestyle changes.

    There is no way, in my mind (which is not really an important source), that your sea change, yoga and slower pace wouldn’t be beneficial for your heart!

    • Debbish
      August 27, 2013

      I like to agree with the latter Jess. I know that when I was working and sometimes I’d be worried about my blood pressure and stress levels and if my head was pulsating and eye twitching I’d panic and find my meditation CD (which was mostly unused!) and ‘try’ to calm myself down. I realise now it’s not a quick fix, but a practice!

      And yes, the stats are scary!

  • Josefa @always Josefa
    August 27, 2013

    Having a healthy heart should never been overlooked. It is essential to the rest of us feeling well. So good to hear your Dad had such a successful transplant, how wonderful x Josefa #teamIBOT

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2013

      Thanks Josefa! x

  • HappinessSavouredHot
    August 27, 2013

    To protect my heart I avoid anxiety, and strive for serene detachment.

    I also work out to make it stronger. Interval training, like running uphill and down, or sprints interspersed with jogging, is awesome!

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2013

      Oh… I like the ‘serene detachment’ phrase! That sounds like something I could achieve. Sadly I’m less sure about the interval training at my current level of fitness, but guess I’ve gotten there in the past and also guess my Zumba classes offer that. (Dance, water break, dance, water break!)


  • Jacqui
    August 28, 2013

    My daughter had a double lung transplant when she was 9. She knew that the doctors’ first choice had been to give her a heart lung transplant, so when she woke up from the operation she told me that she was so happy that they’d let her keep her own heart, as she’d been scared that she’d wake up and not love us anymore. Very cute 🙂

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2013

      Oh yes Jacqui, very cute and I can completely understand what she meant as it was something I really worried about with my niece. (I’ve no idea what she did think – or if she did at the time).

      I hope your daughter is doing well and continues to do so. Much love.


  • Kek
    August 30, 2013

    Oh Deb, I didn’t know your dad had a heart transplant. How scary, but how amazing too! We attach so much emotional/spiritual stuff to the heart and although I’m usually a very practical, show-me-the-science kind of person, I often wonder what it must be like to have a heart that used to beat in someone else’s chest. I think you would always be conscious of that other person….

    Good for you for sticking with your yoga and meditation efforts. I’m trying to add more meditation to my life too, but it’s an effort to remember…

    • Debbish
      September 1, 2013

      It was quite an emotional thing for dad and really (REALLY) hard for him to talk about. He worried (I think) about being worthy of a second chance and someone else’s passing.

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