More than three billion beats and counting

More than three billion beats and counting

Three billion is a big number. By the time December 23rd rolls around this year, Tom Abbott’s heart will have beaten more than three billion times. That’s when he turns 100 years old.

His granddaughter, Lisa Abbott, will be flying out from Providence to California to celebrate his birthday.  

 Lisa Abbott is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Community Affairs at Lifespan Corporation. It’s a big job, as Lifespan is Rhode Island’s largest employer. She is also the Chair for the 2019 Go Red for Women Luncheon.

Abbott knows every chance she gets to visit her grandfather is a gift.

“When Grandpa was 83, he had open heart surgery for coronary artery disease,” said Lisa Abbott. “He had a stent put in and has since had several for vascular issues.”

 Abbott added that she was not sure she appreciated the significance until more recently when her father had two major heart attacks. “It certainly heightened my awareness of the importance of family history,” Abbott said.

 Her grandfather quit smoking cold turkey before he had open heart surgery.

 “There are so many risk factors within our control,” said Lisa Abbott. “What we eat, how much exercise we get, smoking… even modest changes can make a big difference.”

While Tom Abbott grew up in New York City, working as a driver and delivering beer and soda for Hoffman, this former New Yorker fancies himself a cowboy.

 “We watch John Wayne movies together,” said Lisa Abbott. They also have visited many nearby horse farms in Sunnyvale, California to hang out with the horses. At nearly 100 years old, her grandfather still lives independently. “His favorite saying is ‘thank you’,” said Abbott. “He is so appreciative of the support around him that contributes to his independence.”  

 She was just on the West Coast in October, visiting her grandfather. “This trip was focused on watching the Dodgers beat the Brewers,” she said. “Grandpa is from Brooklyn, so you know who he wants to win the World Series.”

 Their bond was strongly forged when Lisa was a child. “My favorite memories are of sitting on Grandpa’s lap on his tractor when he mowed the lawn,” she said. “I also loved when he went to Space Mountain with me when he was almost 70, he wouldn’t go twice though.”  She also laughingly recounts playing gin rummy together with him. “I would tell him I could see his cards in his glasses, I couldn’t but it made it more fun.”

Lisa Abbott’s biggest fan may very well be her grandfather. She still has a voice mail saved on her phone from him. It’s a few years old, but the message resonates with her just the same: “Lisa it’s Grandpa. If you keep making me so proud I’m going to need to get a bigger shirt because my heart is busting out of my chest.”

She’s taken many steps in her own life to stay healthy and active, particularly regarding heart health. But she realizes that while many risk factors are within our control, one is not, and that is our genetic make-up.

 “I am keenly aware that heart disease runs in my family, so I focus more on those things I can control,” she said. I am very physically active, eat a healthy diet, and I don’t smoke. I work hard to manage stress through meditation and exercise.”

The American Heart Association created Go Red for Women to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke as the number one killer of women. Go Red for Women is a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

In 2010, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20 percent while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent by the year 2020.

 In her role as Chair for the Go Red for Women Luncheon, Lisa Abbott hopes to bring awareness to the simple changes people can make to improve their overall wellbeing.

 “I think women, especially, take care of others more than we take care of ourselves, so how we shift that focus a bit is important,” she said. “The recognition that wellbeing is a function of more than just our physical activity may be the most impactful message we can deliver.”

 For more information, sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, call the Southern New England American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Director, Michelle Clark at 401-228-2322 or email her at m[email protected] 

To learn more about personally supporting Lisa Abbott in her role as Go Red for Women Chair, please visit this link



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