Thursday, February 02, 2006

Take Good Care of Your Heart...

He was only 58 years old. And had been given a clean bill of health just that week. So it's no surprise that an early Shabbos morning phone call from my mother was a complete shock. Heart attack.

We observed his 9th yahrtzeit this week. Though I named my firstborn after him, I sometimes still forget that my Uncle B, z"l, is gone. [Between the death of my Uncle B, z"l, and my Uncle A, z"l, the year before, we haven't had an operational VCR in our family for almost a decade.]

It is often referred to as "the silent killer," but is it so silent? There are clues. Vascular disease (including high blood pressure and high cholesterol) typically runs in families so it pays to know your history. If you are carrying extra weight, and you know who you are, you have cause to be concerned. In addition to the scale, a sedentary lifestyle is a strong contributing factor as is one's eating habits. Diabetes increases one's propensity, and need I mention smoking??

So not so silent if you know your risks, and if you know your risks, you can make changes in the areas that are changeable. Just as we can choose our friends and not choose our family, so too can we change behaviours and not change our genetics.

Early warning signs are important to know. And if you are female, it is particularly essential that you understand we tend to present with atypical symptoms. Consistent heart pain? Only 1/3 of women experience this during a cardiac episode verses 2/3 of men with the same ailment. Stomach upset? Common for women and not common for men. We need to know the warning signs especially in light of the fact that heart disease kills more women than all other types of cancer combined.

Tomorrow is National Wear Red Day, and I encourage you to participate. ItÂ’s a simple, powerful way to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke. By joining together with thousands of women, companies and organizations, and cities across America, you'll help the American Heart Association support ongoing research and education about women and heart disease.


Contribute $5 to the American Heart Association's go red for women movement, and wear red and jeans. Your generous act of tzedakah will support vital research and education efforts. You will help save women's lives.

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