Vail Daily column: Heart disease can be avoided | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Heart disease can be avoided

I've been told there are three primary learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. I think I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner — I learn by watching and doing. Sometimes, I wish I was more of the auditory type. When my parents told me not to put my hand in the fire, guess what, I put my hand in the fire. I needed to learn for myself. However, because I am also a visual learner, I find that I often avoid bad situations by watching others unsuccessful actions.

When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I recall a couple conversations my parents had about our family's friends who had heart attacks and had been diagnosed with cancer. My parents were concerned and saddened for our friends. Soon thereafter, my mom and dad sat with my brothers and I and explained that our friend's parents were sick and the families could use our support. They not only asked that we make an effort to talk to our friends as they may be scared for their parents, but they also asked that we assist my mom in preparing meals for these families.

While I do not recall the duration of time that passed as we made meals and had the families over for dinner, I do recall a number of times that my parents took our friend's parents for treatment. Too often, when my parents returned from these treatments, they were sad and sometime I caught them crying. Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I think I get it. They were scared for their friends and contemplated what life might look like if one of these people passed and left their spouse and children behind. Further, I assume that these events may have caused my parents to consider their own mortality.

As these events occurred almost 40 years ago, and education about these types of illnesses was not as prevalent as it is today, I don't know that my parents had considered what could be done to change their lifestyles and better their health.

When it comes to heart disease, not learning by seeing and listening to the vast amounts of information available can come at a hefty cost. It would be unfortunate to have to learn about heart disease by experience.

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We are besieged with health information nowadays. So why don't we actively better our chances of a long and healthy life?

I am now about the age my parents were when they had feared for their friends lives. Simply getting old is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and I hope we all take heed. Heart disease, diabetes and some cancers can be prevented.

Prevention

I could not think of more reliable sources to reference than The Cleveland Clinic and The Mayo Clinic to convey prevention methods of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. While it should be common knowledge, here are the leading suggestions to help reduce your risks:

• Avoid tobacco.

• Have a healthy diet.

• Maintain a healthy weight.

• Select foods low in fat and salt.

• Exercise.

According to the CDC's final death totals from 2014, coronary heart disease ranks No. 1 for all caused deaths. That's unfortunate for many reasons. However, being that heart disease is for the most part preventable, it's sad that more people are not proactive in preventing it. When simple changes to your lifestyle could save you from a miserable demise, why would you choose not to change? This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about putting your hand in the fire. However, the difference here is that by not listening you don't get burned and heal, you die.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

In the United States, every minute, someone dies from a heart disease-related event. If you are between the ages of 45 to 54, then you are part of 11 percent of the U.S. population that have been diagnosed with having a heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease. For those people between the ages of 55 and 64, you make up almost 20 percent of the population (American Heart Association). Know the warning signs and symptoms:

• Chest pain or discomfort.

• Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.

• Shortness of breath.

• Nausea, lightheadedness or cold sweats.

When it comes to heart disease, not learning by seeing and listening to the vast amounts of information available can come at a hefty cost. It would be unfortunate to have to learn about heart disease by experience.

Don't allow your precious life be a statistic. Heart disease is something everyone needs to be aware of.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.