Give Your Heart a Valentine

By the time we reach our 70s, we have seen and enjoyed many Valentine's Day celebrations, from chocolates and flowers, to engagement rings, to bottles of sometimes stinky perfume. We have taken those special trips, as well as shared many romantic dinners. That is why I have chosen to take a whole different approach with my Valentine's blog this year. I have decided to get to the real heart of the matter.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It exceeds every kind of female cancer including breast cancer. ALL cancer in women put together does not take the lives of as many women as heart disease.

You will rarely see a march to bring awareness to this killer of women. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it is that the American Heart Association does not do the public service announcements that the cancer society does. Whatever the reason, please listen up.

There are many things that affect our health, and we already know that. Being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, stress, drinking too much and the list goes on. When we are young, we just assume we will live a long life, and we just go ahead and live on the edge for years. It is only when we are old, if we are fortunate enough to get there, that we can see and feel the effects of what we have done to ourselves. Even if you did everything RIGHT for most of your life, heart disease can still get you.

Sure, you may not be in the best of health as a senior, but living with arthritis, poor eyesight, less hearing is nothing compared to heart issues, and you will be grateful for just having the regular aches and pains that often go along with aging. You will likely NOT leave this world from a bad hip, wearing glasses, or a hearing aid. When your heart stops ticking, you are no more. No matter how good all your other parts may still work, without your beating heart, nothing else matters. Keep in mind that your heart is not only an organ, but it is considered to be a muscle as well. It wears out, can get too big, and often times just gets overworked. Those heart transplants you read about are not likely going to you. They are much fewer and far between than you think, and the older you are, the less likely YOU will get one!

If you have heart disease in your family, you may already be keeping a close eye on the old ticker. Perhaps one of your parents, grandparent, or a sibling has already passed from some kind of heart issue. If there is a problem that has been going on within your family, it is up to YOU to make sure you do not have the same condition. You would be surprised at how many people do not know the health history of family members. This is information that should be shared. It could save your life! I am sure you know at least one person who did everything right and still died way too young from a heart attack.

Women do not always have the same symptoms as men have when it comes to heart attacks. We do it different. The signs and symptoms are not the classic grab your chest, intense pain, and hit the ground. Women will often disregard the symptoms as flu, being over tired, or that type of thing. Even a doctor visit is not the same. Some doctors will listen to your vague symptoms, and give you the old, "Take two aspirin and call me if you don't feel better." Men are treated differently and often taken more seriously. This, unfortunately, is a contributing factor to the high mortality rate in women with heart attacks.

Unlike some of our other body parts, such as kidneys, lungs, arms and legs, we were given only one precious heart. They write songs about the heart. We talk about someone breaking our heart, yet very little is said about the real importance of our heart.

Don't ignore things that are concerning to you, no matter what your doctor may say. The heart of a woman is very fragile. That is why they break so easily. None of us knows just when the warranty may expire on any of our parts, and you really do need to listen to your heart. Pay close attention. It may be trying to tell you something.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!