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A heart-healthy, Happy Valentine’s Day

By Paul Viau | Feb 12, 2014
Photo by: File photo TAKE HEART, AMERICA — Let Valentine's Day be your wake up call to start living heart healthy.

At the risk of being preachy, I’d like to depart from my normal Valentine’s Day chatter about where to dine and what sort of gift to buy your valentine.

Instead, I’m going to focus with what everyone in a happy-together relationship really wants deep inside — more time on this earth with their partner.

Yes, the more years you spend with the one you love, the more both will cherish every moment spent together. But as you age, there comes the realization that your time is fleeting.

Tick/Tock, Tick/Tock — The clock is always ticking.

So, no matter your age, I’d like to remind you that February is American Heart Awareness Month, and sadly, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in our country — for both men and women.

I know, all too personally, how quickly a heart attack can take the life of a loved one.

My father died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 58. I was a senior in college at the time, and I have felt “robbed” ever since.

My father never got to see his sons realize their dreams and enjoy successful careers. He never got to know his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Conversely, they were robbed of knowing a wonderful, soft-spoken and caring man.

Instead they were stuck with one, lone father/grandfather figure — whacky-ka-whacky me. But as usual, I digress.

These days, we are better educated about the risk of heart attacks, and how the risk of coronary heart disease can be reduced with lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication.

The most-commonly recommended lifestyle changes are changes in diet (make healthier food choices) and exercise (move more.) But many American’s refuse to make such changes because they don’t realize they are at risk.

Did you know? There is a simple, online test sponsored jointly by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, that will you if you are eating right and getting enough exercise. Visit www.mylifecheck.heart.org.

This test takes just a few minutes and will give you a benchmark on your personal heart health. Of course, the online tests can’t measure other important measures of heart health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. You need to see your M.D. for that.

But that’s a good thing, because it will get you up and moving.

MyLifeCheck.heart.org suggests that one of the best things all of us can do for heart health is “get moving,” and add 10-minutes additional walking daily to whatever other exercise you are getting.

It is also important for all of us to know the symptoms of a heart attack — which are less obvious for women then they are for men.


(Side bar)

Signs of a heart attack:

•Chest discomfort or pain; pressure, squeezing, a sense of fullness or pain

•Pain extending into one or both arms, back, neck, jaw and upper stomach

•Shortness of breath

•Breaking out in a cold sweat

•Nausea and/or vomiting

•Lightheadedness or weakness

•A strong sense of impending doom


Note: Women may not have the classic crushing chest pain. They are likely to have shortness of breath, and unexplained fatigue.


Visit www.heart.mission-health.org/heart-programs/heart-attack.


While I’m on the subject of health, we should all know the signs of a stroke and be prepared to act — F.A.S.T.



Ask your loved one to smile. Does one side of his or her face droop?


Ask your loved one to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?


Ask your loved one to repeat a simple phrase. Does his or her speech sound slurred or strange?


Time is crucial. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or your loved one has any of these symptoms.

For more information about stroke, visit www.stroke.org

By the way, you can cut out this column and tape it to your refrigerator, wrap your loved-one’s Valentine’s Day gift with it or crumple it up for packing material.I just hope you take the information to heart.

Happy Valentines’ Day.