I have a heart. I don’t mean that I care about you. I mean that I have a living, breathing heart. Well, actually, the heart really isn’t living and it really isn’t breathing. But it is beating. Right here inside my chest. Listen and you can hear the regular rhythm: Thump, thump. Thump, thump. Thump……….thump. Whew! That one kind of worried me. Just like Caesar Romero, the Dog Whisperer, because I own a heart, I feel that I have the authority to speak to the care of the heart.
As you may know, I have recently taken up running. As a result, my heart and I have a new relationship. My heart lets me know that it is in my body pushing my blood through my cholesterol clogged arteries. In fact, every time I run at about a half of a mile, my heart starts beating on my chest wall. It beats loud and strong, just like my first grade teacher when she beat on the classroom door after we locked her in the classroom with the hornets’ nest. My heart is screaming, “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!”
Because of this new-found relationship with my cardiac muscle, I now feel qualified to speak to heart care in general. I’ve started listening to my heart and now I’m responding – not by letting it out of my chest cavity because that would be bad, but rather, by taking care of my ticker and following a few simple steps to better heart health:
1. I eat less salt. I’m down to 4 tablespoons at breakfast. I’ll work on the other meals as I get healthier.
2. I exercise 20 minutes every month whether I feel like it or not.
3. I avoid fatty foods (unless they are the kind of fatty foods that taste good, like Long John Silvers).
4. I drink more water and less alcohol. A trick that has helped me and might work for you is to visit the liquor stores only on days that ARE NOT:
b. National Holidays or
c. Election Days
5. I listen to other people’s hearts to make sure I know what they all sound like. (Avoid putting your head against people’s chests without asking because the get really weird about that kind of thing…Especially women.)
Yes, I’ve studied my heart and have taken great strides in being Heart Healthy. And yes, I honestly believe that I am a heart expert. You might say that I am a cardiologist. I wouldn’t say that because I might get sued but you can say it. You can call me “The Cardiologist with a Heart”. I’ve printed business cards but you will have to write this in yourself.
As a heart expert, I believe I am qualified to say that a person who has classic symptoms of heart problems, like chest pain or sudden death, should receive the utmost care. Some of this care is obvious: EKG’s after every meal, blood pressure monitoring at the grocery store and pharmacy, and Super-sized diet cokes with their Quarter-Pounder with Cheese and a SMALL fry. Always order the small fries: Doctor’s orders.
In addition, ALL patients who visit my office get a Stress Treadmill Test, EVEN if they are asymptomatic. This isn’t just standard care…you might say that this is the “Gold Standard” of care when it comes to taking your heart health seriously.
Sure, some other “doctors” may say that a stress test isn’t necessary for asymptomatic patients. But I say, “Better to Over Kill than to NOT Kill at all.” (I have that posted on my wall next to my high school diploma and a stack of my business cards.)