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My Journey Towards Better Heart Health

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OMRON. All opinions are my own.

I recently celebrated my 50th birthday. Living half a century makes you take a deep assessment of your life especially concerning your health.

I must admit that I didn’t always eat well nor did I exercise as often as I should have, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed excellent health.

That all changed last year when I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, a quivery, fluttery heartbeat. This may sound innocuous, but it is a serious medical condition that affects more than 6 million Americans.

Essentially it means your heart’s normal rhythm is out of whack. Because your blood isn’t moving well, you’re more likely to have heart failure. Blood can also pool inside your heart and form clots. If one gets stuck in your brain, you can have a stroke.

afibAnd that’s exactly what happened to me (you can read the full story here).

But it was only after I suffered a stroke that my doctors found the AFib. I had to wear a heart monitor for 30 days after I was released from the hospital. All of the readings were normal until a couple of days before my monitoring ended. My cardiologist noticed the irregularity as he reviewed the graphs and immediately prescribed blood thinners to manage the condition. I also had to get a full EKG and stress test to rule out any other heart conditions. Thankfully, there were none.

Before I left his office, he grabbed my arm and looked me squarely in the eyes. 

“The meds I prescribed you will keep you alive,” said with a stern voice. “Do not miss a dose. And if you ever find yourself unable to get the meds, call my office immediately and I will get you some ASAP.”

His words were jarring and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to really change my lifestyle.

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During my health crisis, I also discovered that I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  I immediately made changes to my diet. No more fried foods, red meat, or heavily processed, high sodium foods. Do I miss a medium-rare ribeye steak? Of course, I do. It’s absolute torture to go out with friends and watch them indulge while I munch on a salad. However, I refuse to allow a moment of pleasure to derail my long-term health goals.

I also started a meditation practice to help manage my stress and keep me calm. I listen to a 10-minute guided meditation in the morning, a 5-minute meditation at lunchtime, and a sleep meditation at night. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I take a few minutes to breathe deeply and channel my thoughts to more positive things. 

While I’ve been doing well in these two areas, there are two other areas that I still struggle with: Exercise and alcohol consumption.

My exercise schedule is hit or miss. Some weeks I’m at the gym 3 times or more. Other times, I go weeks without ever stepping inside a gym or doing any type of exercise that would get my heart rate up.

In addition to my spotty exercise routine, I drink one or two glasses of wine every night. While some experts believe doing so may improve your heart health, there is still some debate. Additionally, some research shows that alcohol consumption may be detrimental to people with AFib.

That’s why I’ve decided to partner with OMRON to take the 90-Day Challenge to create healthy heart habits.

OMRON Healthcare, the global leader and number one doctor and pharmacist recommended brand in personal blood pressure monitors, is engaging a national campaign to raise awareness of heart health.

Over the next ninety days, I will develop three new heart-healthy habits: 

  1.     Exercise for one hour three times a week
  2.     Reduce alcohol consumption to 8 drinks a month (down from 30).
  3.     Regularly measure my blood pressure and heart health with the OMRON Complete and track the results daily.

omronI must admit that doing these things will be difficult. I attend many networking, fundraising, and cultural events and parties.  Alcohol is readily available at these functions and they often occur during my regular gym time. 

However, I plan to focus on achieving my goals and taking care of my heart. Stay tuned each month to see my progress and feel free to send me words of encouragement.

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