People all around us serve as examples every day on how we should reevaluate our lives. Some are positive and uplifting, while others are discouraging and depressing. If we were to take the discouraging and depressing examples to heart, we would be overwhelmed with grief and anxiety. Instead, we do what most people do, we ignore these examples.
Sometimes it’s ok, it helps us function. The anxiety otherwise could be crippling. However there are times when we should not ignore them. I felt this way about the news of Carrie Fisher’s death at only 60 years of age. It struck me on so many levels but most importantly reminded me of the fact that every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.
Here is the most troubling statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. It is not only a disease of aging. Younger and younger people are suffering heart attacks and it is what we do now that counts.
The good news, about 80 percent of deaths from heart disease can be attributed to preventable factors like obesity, poor physical activity, heavy drinking, eating unhealthy foods and not keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. It is possible to turn these numbers around!
The key is to find your motivation, have the right support, make it realistic, and give the changes enough time to stick. I can’t stress this last point enough. We ALL are capable of making significant changes in our lifestyle. Personally for me, after having 2 children in medical school and gaining 50 pounds with each pregnancy, I had to decide whether I was going to get healthy again or stay the way that I was. I had every excuse available to me but I wanted more out of my life. Believe me, I have been there and so I speak to you not only as a physician but also as a previously unhealthy human being. I am committed to helping you achieve change and quality in your life. It is possible.