In 2006 during a routine examination an EKG revealed evidence of a recent heart attack. This came as a shock as I was in exceptionally good health except for a prolonged bout of tiredness. With hindsight, I could have taken steps beyond the yearly doctors visit which may have prevented a heart attack, however it’s too late for that. Now it’s all about moving forward and making compromises to prevent another one.
Develop A Post Coronary Outlook
America is the most over-medicated country in the world and sadly, a patient is viewed by the medical industry as a money making opportunity. The sooner you realize that it’s about the bottom line and that any benefits you may get are both secondary and incidental, the better. Educate yourself and be prepared to take responsibility for your own well being. The super expensive prescription for this years drug a la mode may not benefit you but drug companies don’t take doctors on golfing weekends to explain the benefits of a $4 generic prescription.
For two years I allowed myself to be prescribed a literal basket of drugs which combined to make me extremely sick. No problem, here’s another handful for the nausea. I have had surgeries which proved unnecessary, gave no benefit and involved considerable risk. I called a halt to this medical shell game in 2008 and now take an aspirin and a pill to control triglyceride levels. No ACE inhibitors, Beta Blockers, Statins or $300 monthly co-pays.
Read Food Labels
Almost any food item you buy has implication for your heart health. Take a look at your diet and list the things which are clearly not helping. Now pause before you strike them out….. If you have an iron will and the temperament of a monk you may be able to simply live without everything which you previously enjoyed. The other 99.9% of us will give up after a week. Find alternatives instead. You don’t want to give up eggs despite their high cholesterol? Choose a variety which has lower levels and use egg beaters for baking, omelets and scrambled eggs. “Diet” and “Low Fat” versions of most food lines are widely available, after a week you won’t notice the difference.
Adopt A Stress Free Lifestyle
Before moving to America I spent some time in the Eastern Mediterranean and Greek Islands. The locals are all as old as Methuselah and healthy as mules. They don’t have access to high tech medicine but they do have a healthy diet of fish and olive oil. Just as significant is their outlook. You don’t see them downing a five hour energy drink with one hand, dialing their phone with the other and steering the car from lane to lane with their knees. Ancient Chinese proverb says “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither”. He also has his first heart attack before he is 50, trust me I know.
Slow down. You are really not so important that your presence can’t be done without for a few minutes. (If you really are that important you can still slow down because they won’t dare fire you!)
Nobody can argue that moderate exercising is bad for you and it is one of the easiest things to build into your daily routine. You don’t have to spend a couple of hours down the gym after work each day. For some people it’s just not possible due to either time or motivation. Walk whenever you can. Use the stairs instead of the elevators, leave the car at home and walk to the 7-11. Get into the habit of taking an after dinner stroll.
Finally, Appreciate What You Have
You have survived a heart attack, congratulations. Many people are not that lucky. You have shaken hands with the grim reaper and are still around. Imagine if you were not so lucky, is there anything you would regret not having done or something you would have left unsaid?