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HEALTH   -   SENIORS
Ann on Aging
And Matters of the Heart...
March/April, 2005 - Issue #6
Funny, isn't it, that we associate so many feelings with our heart when our brain is really the center of our emotions? Well, in some of us, that is.

I recently read a statistic that was staggering. Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of women (that's right, Numero Uno), killing over 500,000 of us each year. That's more than the next seven causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. So, why aren't we more proactive about it?

I visited the American Heart Association website (www.americanheart.org) which has a plethora of information and links. Well, that was a downer, especially when I looked at the heart-healthy diet. I zeroed in to desserts (my favorite part of the meal) and didn't find anything close to my Death by Chocolate Cake or Butter Almond Toffee (well, the almonds are healthy). The recipes looked pretty good, though and if I'm going to stick around for a while, it behooves me, and all of us, to take better care of our hearts.

The warning signs of a heart attack are worth repeating: chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, nausea, cold sweat and lightheadedness. I thought I was having a heart attack about eight years ago. The symptoms were all there, so I did what any red-blooded middle-aged woman would do. I straightened the bedroom, changed into a luscious nighty from Victoria's Secret, fixed my hair and makeup, and then I called 9-1-1. False alarm, but the paramedics sent my heart racing anyway.

Unfortunately, we can't plan our medical emergencies, which is why my mom always told me to wear clean underwear in case I was in an accident. Six months after my spine surgery I did a less-than-graceful half gainer down our stairs, landed crumpled at the bottom, and was afraid to move. My husband called 9-1-1, but his timing was lousy. Instead of my yummy silk pajamas from Nordstrom's, I had on a faded, baggy t-shirt from Costa Rica and bright green pajama bottoms with little chickies wearing Santa Claus hats.

Having a healthy heart means a healthy lifestyle. Daily exercise is a must, as is quitting smoking, eating right, staying active and having a positive attitude. I have a sign on my desk that reads, "Humor is the soul's weapon in the unfairness of life." So, if nothing else, we can laugh our way through. A large part of a healthy lifestyle is reducing stress, and one way to do this is by being organized and focused. Somehow stress reduction and Southern California are oxymoronic, but we can try our best.

My daughter-in-law told me about a website, www.flylady.com, that helps you revamp your life. It sounded too good to be true, but Lord knows I need it, so I logged on. It's written by a SHE (Sidetracked Home Executive) that seems to be an affable combination of Martha Stewart and Phyllis Diller. The site does have a Bless Your Heart Club which suggests nothing more than setting a timer and walking 15 minutes a day. The entire site is full of ideas for organizing and making life easier with a bit of humor to make it palatable, but some suggestions don't sit well with me.

According to the site, the first thing you must do to "fly" is to shine your kitchen sink every night before you go to bed. Supposedly, having a shiny sink makes all right with the world, well, your world at least. I did like the part about getting rid of clutter. SHE proposes that you sift through your house and get rid of 27 things. I started with my 19-year-old daughter and the other 26 items were a piece of cake (reduced-calorie cake, that is). SHE's big on using a timer for cleaning and organizing tasks. So be it. A couple of other websites for a heart-healthy lifestyle worth visiting (out of over a million) are www.justmove.org and www.heartcenteronline.com.

So dear readers, my better-late-than-never New Year's Resolution is to get heart healthy and I hope you will join me. I bought my pedometer to walk my way to good health and a timer to help with my organizing and cleaning tasks (no reason to be healthy if you live in a stress-pit). For my new regimen I am working on my sink (who am I to dispel a proven method?), I have purged my pantry of chocolate and brown sugar (it's so good straight from the box), and I do keep my sexy red Victoria's Secret nighty close to the bed - just in case.

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You can contact Ann via e-mail at ann@azfinsurance.com.
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