Pop-A-Lock - February 2019

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KEYSTROKE MONTHLY THE

FEBRUARY 2019

KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY

Helping Others Learn from My Mistake

I never thought I was at risk for heart disease until I had to have a triple bypass about 14 years ago. My father had a heart attack when he was 52, and two of my brothers had heart attacks in their early 50s as well. I told myself I was different because I exercised more regularly than they did, and unlike them, I wasn’t a smoker. I didn’t fully understand the link between family history and susceptibility to heart disease. February is American Heart Month, and because of that, I wanted to share my story of dealing with heart disease so that others might not make the same mistake I did. I ignored my family’s history of heart disease and skipped yearly checkups because I believed I exercised enough and kept myself healthy enough that it would not affect me. But 14 years ago, I was playing tennis on vacation and became winded after playing for just five minutes. When I got back from vacation, I again became winded just from walking up some stairs. That’s when I realized I needed to call a cardiologist, who recommended I see him within the next hour. After he checked me out, he told me I had blockage in three arteries and that I would need surgery within the next 24 hours or I would die. The next morning, I had a triple bypass. I was 59 years old.

are women. I am grateful for the chance I have to share my experience and pay it forward. Not everyone will be as lucky as I was, but there are steps you can take so that, hopefully, you won’t have to be lucky.

Here are seven steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association:

Not everyone will be as lucky as I was, but there are steps you can take so that, hopefully, you won’t have to be lucky.”

Exercise regularly. Eat healthy foods. Maintain a healthy weight. Don’t smoke. Keep a healthy blood pressure.

I was lucky. The cardiologist told me that the only explanation for how I was still able to walk through the door was because my regular exercise had made my arteries elastic, allowing enough blood flow to keep me on my feet. In any other case, I might have been too late. If I had started doing yearly checkups for my heart health when I was in my 40s, I might not have cut it so close. If you come from a family that has a history of heart disease, those checkups are critical. Heart disease kills 1 in 4 people every year in the United States, about half of whom

Keep your cholesterol levels under control. Keep your blood sugar level under control.

-Doug Barnes

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