Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Today is the 15th anniversary of my triple coronary bypass surgery. I suffered a mild heart attack two days prior that changed the course of my life. I left the hospital 17 days later a broken but living person. I could have been one of those every 36 seconds statistics. I was given a second chance.

The person I was in 2005 does not resemble who I am today. My transformation was not overnight. It was not easy. It has stumbled. It has had many successes. By all means, it is not perfect and continues. Heart disease is the demon I will battle for the rest of my life.

Where am I today? I am in a much better place. I have not suffered any further heart attack symptoms. The American Heart Association reports that one in five people who have had a heart attack will be readmitted to the hospital for a second one within five years. I am on a 15-year roll.

I am an optimist but at the same time know I still have several risk factors in my life. A family history of heart disease is the factor that I cannot eliminate. My father’s family is the poster child of that risk. My mother’s family is the poster child of high blood pressure, another risk factor. Talk about being felt a bad hand.

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There are lifestyle choices that greatly influence heart health. I have a mixed bag of successes in this area. I do not smoke, never have. I avoid excessive alcohol use. I consider myself a reasonably active person. My demons are obesity and diet. I have struggled with those but am far from where I was in 2005. I am not where I want to be in 2020.

Taking care of your heart should be number one in your wellness priorities. You could very well be one of the every 36 secondes people who are pushing up the daisies instead of planting them. You may have been dealt risk factors that you cannot control. You do have the power to reduce, control, and eliminate the other risk factors of heart disease. That’s a simple statement. After fifteen years, I know that lifestyle changes are hard, very heard.

Happy 10.15.20 day for me. I seriously doubted on 10.15.05 that I would see this day. You see, my dad was one of those every 36 seconds people. He died at age 60. He never saw his children graduate from high school. He never saw his children grow up and have careers. He never got to enjoy retirement. Don’t be that person. Take care of your heart.

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Love your heart!

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