Your Heart: What Have You Done for It Lately?

IMG_3960We all play favourites.

We look at the attractive, we hang out with the most fun, and we take for granted the reliable and dependable in our lives that are always there day after day.

What is your favourite organ?

You may not choose two of the most important – your brain and heart, but the rest of you couldn’t survive without them.

With every beat, your heart keeps every cell of your body alive, pumping blood freshly oxygenated by your lungs. If your heart stopped pumping or an artery was blocked, you would suffer a stroke, blindness, organ failure or the loss of your legs.

So take a moment to think about your heart. What have you done for it lately?

You can increase your odds for a long and happy life by thinking about your heart as you should your most important relationships. Are you paying attention? Are you showing care each day? Are you working to make it great?

  1. Listening (for Trouble)

Sometimes, it’s obvious when something is wrong – irregular heart beats with lightheadedness; pain or pressure on exertion in your chest, throat or arms.

Sometimes the signs are subtle and mistaken for normal aging – or being married a long time: fatigue or exhaustion, feeling out of shape and short of breath, calf pain while walking, and decreased sexual function.

Before considering vitamins, Viagra or marriage counseling, see your doctor.

  1. How Do You Care for Your Heart?

The best predictor of your future health are (1) the health of your parents and (2) the habits you practice today.

If a parent or sibling had heart surgery, a heart attack or heart failure, you should ask your doctor to assess your personal risk factors, including high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Are you living a life that minimizes risks? Care for your heart by limiting salt, alcohol and a lazy, leisurely lifestyle. Don’t sacrifice long term health for short-term pleasure.

Enjoy the rewards of daily healthy living. Eat more fruits and vegetables and other foods that really make you feel good. If you can sit, stand. If you can stand, walk. If you can walk: run, swim or cycle.

Butt out, get outside and live.

  1. Make a Good Thing Great

Why settle for good enough when you can get great?

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and you don’t know great ‘til you’ve got it.

Your heart is another muscle you can train. Unless you’ve already been a world-class athlete, none of us knows what we can achieve.

When you’re fit and strong, everyday life is easier. You’ll have plenty of energy to shop, clean, mow the lawn, get out and dance. Everyday tasks – climbing a flight of stairs, lifting and moving – become effortless and fast.

For those with heart disease or its risk factors, Healthy Heart programs in your community can safely move you to your fittest state.

Be the best you can be today.

To learn more about “What You Should Know About Heart Disease”, come to my next free public lecture on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients series. You’ll learn if you are at increased risk, practical tips to reduce your risks and how to maintain your best health in spite of heart disease.

I’ll be speaking on Wednesday, March 30th at 7 p.m. at the Alan Emmott Centre at 6650 Southoaks Crescent in South Burnaby. Register online with lcullen@divisionsbc.ca or call Leona at (604) 259-4450.

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News newspapers. 

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About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
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