Meet a celebrity!

26 Sep

We have been friends together

in sunshine and shade

Caroline Norton

Pink Ink…

Star Jones had open-heart surgery in 2010. In August, Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack.  In September, Michael Clark Duncan passed away from a heart attack.   As a result of their celebrity, you may have learned a little bit more about heart disease or heart health.

I learned more about heart disease because of my friend.

Meet Maria.

Go Red Luncheon

Maria and I became friends in 1997.  Over the years, we have lived in the same city. Once for two years, and most recently, for three.  But our friendship has remained constant. Her value in my family’s life during my breast cancer journey cannot be measured.

But want a reason to learn about heart health? Here you go.

Maria’s Mom passed away at 53 from a heart attack, with no physical warning.  In fact, she visited her doctor a week before her death.

Maria’s Grandmother died at 30 from a heart attack.

Maria’s Aunt died at 42 of a heart attack.

Maria’s Uncle died at 55 from a heart attack.

Maria’s Dad had a heart attack at 63, and stroke just a few weeks ago.

Fortunately, he lived.

Maria tracks her heart palpitations on occasion, with a monitor.

This is not just one family’s story.   It is the story of our community.  High blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight issues, diabetes, and medicines to treat various health issues contributed in some way to each of her loved ones’ deaths.  Do any of those issues sound familiar?  If you don’t know anyone with these symptoms, you are indeed blessed.

Maria became committed early on to living a full life, by learning her risks, and by educating others.  It is because of Maria SHARING HER STORY that I am now an American Heart Association Ambassador.  Maria often gives speeches on heart health, and hosts an annual heart health party in February. Recently, she said the most frustrating thing for her is that people like to live in a bubble.  Friends refuse to take control of their own lives.  We both marvel at how people still think heart disease is for “old people”.  Maria’s one wish is that young people realize we can live, and eat differently from our parents.

Agreed. Heart Disease doesn’t have to be a part of our lives. So do something.  Control your risk factors:

  • Manage your blood pressure.
  • Reduce your cholesterol intake.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Walk. Run. Take the stairs. MOVE!
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Watch your blood sugar level if you have diabetes.

The best part of taking control of your risk factors is that it is free!  Heart Health is a lifestyle.  Maria is a shining example.  She is teaching her daughter to break the cycle. It really is something to see an 11 year old checking the labels. Not for calories, but for carbs, sugar and salt content.  That’s what I’m talking about!

To my chagrin, it is often necessary for celebrities to “create buzz” in order for people to pay attention to an issue.  Well, Maria is my celebrity! I’m paying attention. How about you?

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