I would like to share my recent heart health experience with you. This may be especially of interest to women over 40, but can be for anyone.
I am 62 years old and have been very healthy throughout my life so far. As with all of us there are some “bumps in the road,” but generally speaking nothing major until recently.
The “until recently” involved my heart. A fainting spell (syncope) occurred while working out at the gym. This was followed by a foggy feeling with my thinking. I describe this as if I were running on 2 cylinders of a 4 cylinder machine. I thought ok, I am fine, and maybe I need to eat or I could be dehydrated or maybe it is nothing at all. By early afternoon it felt like a switch flipped and I was back to normal.
The next day was the same without the fainting episode. I knew something was not right. I called my doctor reluctantly and went to see him. A 'slight abnormal ECG or electrocardiogram' showed---yikes! A referral to a cardiologist was made.
Two days later after reoccurring symptoms of a foggy brain, I saw the cardiologist and another abnormal ECG showed with words like “coronary artery disease” and “heart branch block” and “underlying hypertension.” I am in denial and felt they must have the wrong person. After all I have a healthy diet and exercise, and with my massage business, I have meditative time.
A few tests are set up and I was sent home on a 24 hour heart monitor. I have increased episodes of just not feeling well. Sometimes it felt like a butterfly was in the area of my heart.
I continue to walk and jog with my dog.
Two more days passed and I felt a sharp pain beneath my sternum, tightness in my right chest area, along with nausea happened. My initial thought was that I was getting the flu. I was on my morning walk/jog with my dog when this was happened and I started back home. If only I could take a deep breathe or sigh I would feel better. Symptoms worsened and I called the nurse. Her reply was calm but said, “I want you to go to the Emergency Room NOW—you could be having a heart attack.” I thought “me, no way.”
I arrived at the ER (emergency room) and a very abnormal ECG was taken and within minutes I was being rescued from a major heart attack.
I needed to be treated for 2 blockages of my left coronary artery. This artery feeds the left ventricle of the heart. The left ventricle pumps blood to feed the brain and body. Two stents were placed to open these blockages. All of this caught me totally by surprise. I said “no” this cannot be happening to me.
I exercise daily, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I don't eat any red meat, I eat lower fat dairy products, and I don't eat processed foods. I am not a smoker. My blood pressure is almost always within normal limits. So why and how did this happen? I thought I knew about heart health.
NO, Not Me
After denial, I was giving all of this much thought. I have a family history of heart disease. My father and my mother’s brothers had heart issues. My older brother at age 62 also had a stent placed in the same artery as me. Family history reveals above normal cholesterol numbers even though mine was quite good.
Over the course of the last year or so, I seemed to feel more tired by early evening and would fall asleep very early. Sometimes my workouts at the gym left me feeling more tired than before. These could have been early signs.
Then there are stress factors. How often we hear those words. Stress presents itself in many different ways. There is physical and emotional stress and the list could be endless.
For women over 40, the normal physical body changes which occur with menopause or perimenopause is a stress to the body with the hormonal changes.
This came from my Heart Health book from the hospital. “Unrelieved chronic stress can have many negative effects on the body’s function: our over-stimulated adrenal glands produce too much cortisone. The immune system is weakened.
Chronic thyroid hormone stimulation can increase anxiety, nervousness and affect weight and heat tolerance. Endorphins, our own body’s good feeling hormones, are decreased.”
Also from the Heart Health book: “Poorly managed stress poses special dangers for heart patients.”
· Increased blood pressure
· Increased pulse rate
· Release of sugar into the bloodstream along with increased insulin levels may contribute to heart disease
· Increased blood cholesterol in response to stress
· Chest pain (Angina)
· Negative effect on our emotions
Learning how to manage stress for ALL of us is important for heart health.
Alternative health therapies of massage therapy and acupuncture assisted my body back into a balanced state. They work to balance and calm my nervous system and support my immune system. They are helping my lymphatic system to rid my body of the chemicals used and needed to locate the blockages.
My healthy diet is improving by including more natural and organic whole foods. Eating nutritious food is important for heart health and for our whole physical body to be on a healthy and stress free journey.
I have decided to incorporate cholesterol friendly herbal supplements through my acupuncturist. My body tolerates these very well and there are no side effects. I have included a natural spray mist of Vitamin D3, which our sun gives us and fish or krill oil for omega 3. Tahitian Noni Juice has been a part of my life for 4 years and works to support my endocrine, immune system, and heart health.
The plan of alternative health therapies, herbal supplements, and a healthy diet are complementary to my medical care.
I am on a learning journey to increase my awareness of heart health and look forward to sharing this information.
A quote on the wall of the cardiac floor for me states it all:
“The First Wealth Is Health.”
Heart Health Recipes
Breathwork Relaxation Techniques
Other Relaxation Techniques/Stress Relief
Please share your Heart Health Stories with our community and tell us what works for you? I would love to hear from you!
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