Go Red: Women’s Heart Month Saves Lives

The #1 killer of women is heart disease.  Heart disease kills more women than do all cancers combined.  It strikes as early in life as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and lymphoma do.  The death rate begins to climb for women in our 40’s.  Who would have guessed?  I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure at 48, seven years ago.  You can read my story in “Life Upside Down” (09/29/2010).

The good news is that, like cancer, much heart disease is preventable, and if caught early, treatable.

Warning signs of heart attack women are different for women than for men and are often subtle.  Don’t wait for pain down your left arm or a heavy weight on your chest, although these are possible symptoms for women.  Women’s heart attacks often feel like an strong tooth ache, or pain across the shoulder blades. Go to http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/ to learn more.

Denial is more than a deep river in Egypt.  Take the possiblity of heart problems seriously.  Have your heart checked and an EKG done, even if you feel fine, because it provides a baseline for future reference.  I had an EKG when I was 30, for which my doctors were grateful 18 years later.  It showed what had changed and what had not.

You know the drill:  Eat a healthy diet, exercise, reduce negative stress in your life, give up fast food and diet soda.  Get regular check-ups and learn the warning signs.  For all of this, your heart will sing your praise!

We know what we need to do. The question is whether we will value our life enough to do it.

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff finger
at the very foundations-
though the melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly recognized as your own
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.
-Mary Oliver

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