A Message From a Heart Champion...
Let me begin by sharing that my dad had a severe stroke when he was 51 years old and his sister died of a massive heart attack at the young age of 49. Because of this, I had concerns about my own health and my predisposition to heart disease.
I had received information, in the mail, regarding a company that was coming to my area. They were offering various health tests. I noted that one, a Carotid Doppler test, seemed appropriate for me, due to my family history.
Being concerned about my own health, I discussed this test with my family doctor. Since I had no other risk factors for heart disease & stroke, other than family history, he was not overly concerned, but did provide me with a prescription for the test.
My Carotid Doppler test was scheduled for the end of February. Unfortunately, I had my life changing heart attack - on February 10th. I was 48 years old. It was fortunate that my heart attack presented itself with the most recognizable symptoms - severe chest pain. These pains lasted about a week, before they became so severe that I finally told my husband. Once in the emergency room, it was determined that I had experienced a heart attack within 12 hours of arriving there.
Many women have not been as fortunate as I. Many experience other milder symptoms. Many do not know what to look for. My message today is that we should look out for our own health. Not even our physician knows our body, as well as we do ourselves. If you have just one of the major risk factors: family history, overweight, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or are a smoker - get tested. After undergoing two procedures to have 4 stints implanted, I was finally on the road to recovery.
It didn't take much convincing for me to change my lifestyle. I wanted every chance for a long and healthy future. I had a husband, who I always planned on getting old with; children - my daughter who was 19, at the time, who I always imagined seeing on her wedding day and enjoying the grandchildren she would give me. Then there was my son, who was 12. I had a lot more baseball games to go to and his high school graduation to attend. That was enough incentive for me.
My eating habits were not difficult to adjust, as I had always tried to maintain a healthy diet. Changing the way I ate & how I prepared meals would also benefit my entire family. My hope was that this would give my children a better chance for a healthier life too.
Taking medication was difficult for me, because of the side effect - it makes me a bit more tired than I'd like. The hardest obstacle for me to overcome was exercising on a regular basis. It took me awhile to get into a routine. My daughter encouraged me to join her gym and exercise with her. Once I became a member, I encouraged my son to join the gym as well. I figured he was not too young to begin a regular exercise routine, even though he participates in sports. It's a family affair and a great opportunity to do something together - that is heart healthy.
They both continually push me to my limits. I guess it’s their way of letting me know they were scared and want me to be around, as much as I want to be around - for them. Never being a big believer in exercise, I became a firm supporter when just with the exercising - my total cholesterol dropped 40 points!
Take charge of your health! We all have someone who is counting on us and needs us to be there for them. Our health and life are too valuable to take for granted. Sometimes only minor changes are needed to give you a better chance at a healthier life.
Kelly M Rummings
Celebrate the difference you can make. Attend your local Heart Ball.
The Buffalo-Niagara Heart Ball, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Buffalo on February 6, 2010.