Guest blog by Joanne Reed, Survivor Ambassador
For many years, I knew all the ways to stay healthy – eat right, exercise often and be mindful of your numbers. But just because I knew all these things, didn’t mean I paid much attention to them.
As a busy mom, grandma, wife, sister and friend, I found it very easy to make excuses to forget all those healthy habits. I mean I tried to take walks when I could, but I also indulged in french fries more than just occasionally. And so, I found myself to be overweight, having high blood pressure and seeing my cholesterol numbers going up.
I started to find that I would get tired very easily, even just taking a short walk, but attributed that to age. What else could it be?
Then one day, I felt some chest pain. I took my blood pressure, which had skyrocketed, took an aspirin and went to the emergency room.
To my surprise, they told me I had several blockages in the major arteries of my heart, and very shortly after I underwent triple bypass surgery.
Although I had a few complications after my surgery, I was able to recover and begin the process of cardiac rehabilitation. Now of course, when I first thought of cardiac rehab, I imagined they would just have me do some exercises and send me home.
But I was very lucky to be a part of a cardiac rehab program that taught me all about living a heart-healthy lifestyle – from exercise to nutrition to the importance of social interaction and mental well-being.
Oh, and did I mention that my husband and I actually did this together? I had my triple bypass in June and he had a triple bypass in October. So, we went through our wellness journey together – and I’m very happy to report that we’ve both lost weight, eat much better, exercise almost daily and improved our numbers.
Through my program, I decreased my LDL or “bad” cholesterol from 173 to 55! I also walk at least two miles most days, some days 4 to 5 miles if my daughter is with me. She likes to push me to go farther!
I’m very lucky to be here to share my story. While I knew my health wasn’t where it should be, I never imagined I’d ever say that I’m a heart disease survivor. If I can share one message today, it would be to pay attention to your numbers, pay attention to your diet and make sure you move more daily.
Thank you all for joining me for the virtual Heart Walk on May 16 and for supporting the work of the American Heart Association!
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