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A Heart to Heart on World Heart Day

 

 

HeartToHeart

The heart, a word that means something different to so many – it can be symbolic of emotions, such as love or loss; for others it is the physical heart itself that beats in our chest & pumps blood through our veins; more see it as a reminder of loved ones who passed away due to some sort of heart condition.

One word, multiple meanings!

As today is World Heart Day 2015, this word will once again stir a mixture of emotions in different people. So what does it mean to me?

I’ve always been aware of people having heart problems & suffering from heart attacks. My own granddad sadly died as a result of a heart attack when I was a little child. I’ve been told the story numerous times, about how I raised the alarm after he collapsed when I was out walking with him near my house. A memory I can’t recall, but yet one I haven’t been allowed to forget!

Now I’m not a worrier by nature when it comes to health conditions- as I’m a believer that whatever happens, happen for a reason – but it’s only really since beginning to work here at MediStori that I have come to realise that heart disease is one of the biggest killers worldwide – and this has now made me begin to think about how to look after my health.

World Heart

According to the World Heart Federation “World Heart Day was founded in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year”.

Scary statistic!

And yet, so many, including myself, take this with a pinch of salt and don’t appreciate how lucky we are to have healthy hearts.

Since getting to know the Creative Founder of the MediStori and mum of three, Olive, I’ve learnt a great deal about various chronic health illnesses, as between her & her family they cover a fair few conditions. But to hear that her youngest daughter Mackensie, at just 5 WEEKS old, had three holes in her heart and had to have serious heart surgery, just stunned me! Added to this her two other daughters, Micaela and Nicole have between them heart arrhythmias and holes in their hearts; her husband Fintan suffered a stroke at age 42 and then she herself at just 33 had to get a heart implant in order to monitor her irregular heart movements.

Put together this was something I couldn’t comprehend!

Hearing these stories have made me realise that we don’t always appreciate what we do have & sometimes we don’t realise how good we have it. I myself am fortunate enough not to have a heart condition but I don’t do enough to make sure it stays that way. An unhealthy diet, daily smoker & I like my occasional drink (not many but what would be seen as too many for a healthy lifestyle), all habits I have that contribute to developing heart disease. But yet, I see people in Olive’s position having to control their diet & alcohol consumption as they don’t have a choice with their condition, and they not only say they can do it – they actually DO it.

So why is it that those of us who have a healthy heart don’t ensure we keep it that way?

According to CROÍ “Heart Disease develops in silence, over many years and is usually very advanced by the time people experience any symptoms.” So people like you and I could potentially not be feeling any symptoms, therefore go on unaware of what we are doing to ourselves and don’t think about it. Most of the time, unless people can physically see it or feel it, we ignore what could happen. Then, unfortunately, something drastic happens and all too often this happens before medical care is even sought. If you knew that “up to 80% of the incidence of Heart Disease can be prevented through the modification of risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking.” I think you might reconsider your lifestyle.

Something so simple that we don’t always do.

So this year, for World Heart Day, the theme is quite simple, but could be very effective in making a sustainable change. The theme focuses on creating environments that are heart healthy. Too often, when we are on the go, it can be hard to make heart healthy choices with our food and for others to avoid smoking zones. While this is slowly improving in Ireland, with it being illegal to smoke inside working environments apart from designated areas and the encouragement for calories to be openly on show, we still have a long way to go. The aim of World Heart Day 2015 is to ensure that the environments in which we live & work shouldn’t increase our risk of heart disease.

HealthyHappyHeartOlive works extremely long hours and yet she manages to control her and her family’s conditions. So if she can do it, the rest of us have no excuse not to.

So even though World Heart Day will mean something different to everyone & raise different emotions for each individual, I encourage you to support this awareness day.

Let’s spread the word and increase awareness for not only a happy heart but for a healthy heart.

 

For more information, check out these charities:

Croi

Heart Children Ireland

Irish Heart Foundation