Saturday, May 7, 2011

Heart Health

When I was thirteen years old, I walked into my house after being called out of school early, and was shocked to see my mother in my kitchen with red, swollen eyes. I had that moment of panic where I wanted someone to tell me what was going on right now! I didn't want them to stall and think of a way to break the news to me.

My uncle Butch died of a heart attack, they'd said. He'd had them before and was on medication to prevent more, and he seemed to be doing well. But I think, like many others before him, he thought medication would be enough. He'd be fine. It proved to be untrue. He was 45.

I kept thinking, if I'd been older, if I'd been able to bully him around and make him take care of himself, I could've saved him. Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one in my family with bad habits. My grandmother, years later, passed away. Her horrible eating habits coupled with her smoking habit took her earlier than we'd all thought. A few years later, my second uncle passed away. A triple bypass bought him some time, but in the end, poor eating, alcohol and smoking took him too young. He was 55.

My grandfather was the last, so far, to be taken.

As I look at my mother--the last of my family on her side--I see all of the mistakes her brothers and parents made reoccurring in her, and I'm determined to eradicate them not just from her life, but from mine.

To change bad habits, you first have to figure out what they are. Of course we all know that smoking and excessive drinking are bad for the heart, but there's a lot of things we do every day (or don't do) that increases our risk of heart disease. I implore all of you to follow the link to discover the best way to proceed with your life in a heart healthy way!

Now what about heart health for children? Here are some facts taken from American Heart Association:

Thousands of infants born each year have congenital cardiovascular defects. Of those who have these defects,

4–10 percent have atrioventricular septal defect.
8–11 percent have coarctation of the aorta.
9–14 percent have tetralogy of Fallot.
10–11 percent have transposition of the great arteries.
14–16 percent have ventricular septal defects.
4–8 percent have hypoplastic left heart syndrome

Other children will develop acquired heart disease. This includes...

Arrhythmias.
Cardiomyopathies.
Kawasaki disease.
Rheumatic fever.
Familial hypercholesterolemia will affect the future of an unknown but probably large number of children.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) with its myocarditis.

This all means there are children out there whose little hearts can't support them and we need research and better medication, as well as better education for all.

In honor of this, I'm asking you, my friends, peers, and new acquaintances, to donate to these great causes to further research and extend the reaches of heart health education.

American Heart Association
Children's Heart Link


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In order to qualify for these gifts, we ask only that you leave a comment and consider giving a donation to these wonderful charities. We'd also appreciate a tweet, a facebook status link, an email sent to loved ones...whatever you'd like to do to help us bring awareness here.

7 comments:

blackroze37 AT yahoo.com said...

AMEN on that. i have ahd a extra fast heart rate all my life, they could never figure it out and until i was like 30, and then they wanted to expeiment with meds to slow it down, i said. no.. i live that long with 120-135 normal . it was a guessing game and i figure it take off quite a few years, but its better than dying with them slowing my heart down, lol

Cute and Cuddly Quilts said...

Though i can say i've never had a heart condition my father has and it's nothing to mess around with he got diagnosed congestive heart failure at the age of 31 crazy righ... It's a rough thing to deal with he passed away at the age of 40.. Please keep up the great work to bring awareness to all of these great charity's that do so much to help so many great people
Helen Cute and Cuddly Quilts

Em Petrova said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to bring awareness to such an important topic, Brindle. As you know, I have lost a daughter to hypoplastic left heart syndrome(listed in the children's defects by you), and I need a valve replacement at my very young age. I'll keep fighting to get information into people's hands. You're awesome for doing it too! XO

An Open Book said...

This really makes you think- thank you for bringing awareness to this condition

Havan said...

I lost my father at age 53 because his heart wasn't as strong as his mind. This blog brought tears to my eyes and I would be honored to post it on my FB wall and tweet it!

Kellie said...

Heart disease runs in our family. My uncle died of a heart attack 9 years and didn't take care of himself. Although, most would agree that he lived his life the way he wanted. My mother has high cholesterol and I have to watch mine. I have a nephew whose had a hole fixed in his heart. And now a niece who has been diagnosed with the same condition. Our heart is the first thing to develop in the womb and we need to take care of it if it'll last us a life time.

DeanY said...

wonderful causes to promote... My father died in 1986, on my parents 40th anniversary, of heart failure, after many years or congestive heart failure. In 2000 my father in law died when his replacement valve failed. In 2009, my mother, a none smoker, died of lung cancer and this Christmas Day my mother in law died when her lungs and heart could no longer function.
I have made sure my children know the family history of diseases so they can be proactive as young adults. My husband and I have made many life style, including eating habits, so we won't have some of the health issues our parents did.