American Heart Month

Yesterday we talked about how February is Black History Month and Library Lovers’ Month, and how celebrating these is important for self-care. By reading books by authors from underrepresented communities, and buying from independent and minority-owned bookstores, we’re voting with our dollars to keep them in business, and we’re telling these authors that there’s a market for them. This is a key part of their livelihood, and by requesting their works through our local (or even donating copies of them to school) libraries, we’re making these books accessible to people who otherwise may not have heard of them or be able to afford them for the time being.

This is also American Heart Month, and I felt like this could be its’ own post. This month got started in the 1960s, after President Lyndon B. Johnson had a heart attack. This was something that definitely hit close to home for him, so he issued the first proclamation to raise awareness.

Cardiovascular health is important regardless of the time of year, especially these days due to the pandemic. The AHA website talks about how a lot of people delayed seeking help, and worse, skipped the hospital altogether, deciding to take their chances on their own out of fear of getting sick from the pandemic. Their fears are understandable, since this is a dangerous disease. The website also goes on to talk about how many people turned to unhealthy or less-than-stellar lifestyle choices during the quarantine. For instance, some may have stopped whatever physical activity they were doing before all this started. Others may have made choices when it comes to food that they wouldn’t have otherwise made, and for others, that also may have extended to alcohol.

Physical activity can indeed be difficult, especially this time of year, and more so if you live in a place that turns into what amounts to a tundra on steroids in the winter months like yours truly. I get that. For a lot of us, the gym is off the table as an option. The key is to find what works for you, based on your own circumstances. As is often said, you know your situation best.

The website goes on to talk about how heart disease is something we can prevent through healthy lifestyle choices, and for some of us, that could extend to weight also. One of my relatives has a history of heart problems, so this hits close to home for me. I know for sure their lifestyle choices haven’t helped any. I’m seeing the results of it, and it’s reinforced my decision to continue making healthy choices now and going forward.

Several years back, before I lost the weight, I had an unrelated health scare, and while I was metabolically healthy (knock on wood), my blood pressure was quite a bit higher than it usually was. It wasn’t in the hypertension range, yet. It may have had something to do with me walking the 4 miles to the doctor’s office, it may have been due to doctor anxiety on some level, but either way, my weight at the time definitely wasn’t helping. I’d reached a BMI of 45, close to where I’d started out at before I ever started losing the weight a year after that.

That was the closest I ever came to having any kind of cardiovascular issues, and I hope that’s the closest I’ll ever come. I was fortunate, and I count my blessings that what could’ve gone wrong for me ended up not being the case. I was 30 years old at the time of that unrelated health scare. I knew that while I was healthy in terms of lab work and other metabolic tests, that wouldn’t be the case for much longer if I stayed where I was at.

All that means is that I dodged a bullet, and did so before anything else became a problem. How about you, readers? What steps have you taken to manage your health during this pandemic? Is this something that also hits close to home for you?

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