Thursday, December 6, 2012

Passionate about Heart Health

Have I ever told you how much I love my job and love what I do? Yes, I really do. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher. When I finally got to college I realized how much teachers made and looked into other career options. That's when I decided to look into nursing.

For the first eleven or so years, I mainly worked in cardiac type units such as telemetry, CCU, ICU, and heart transplant. Within the last 8 years or so I decided I needed to scale back my working hours and not be in such high stress areas. Therefore I moved into the echo/stress lab running cardiac stress tests, helping out in the cardiology offices and my newest job as cardiac rehab nurse clinician.This is where my job comes full circle because I am clearly doing what I initially set out to do and love....educate.

Even though I am a nurse, I am the educator I always wanted to be. I spend my working days educating people about taking care of their health and hearts. We discuss diet, exercise, risk factors for heart disease, and what they can do in order to have a healthy lifestyle change.

Monday when I went to work, I had 15 patients that had heart attacks. This number is too high. I might see that many of heart attacks in a week, but in one day....I am slightly in shock by our culture. I try really hard to educate this population as to what one can do to try and reverse or change risk factors for heart disease.  The patients keep getting younger and younger.

Personally, I feel the food we eat is killing us. It is not uncommon to see a patient with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, diabetic, and a smoker. To have one or even two of these I can accept, but to have all of these is unacceptable.

People, we need to wake up and listen to our bodies! Take a better look at your food. Read the labels. What are you actually eating? How much are you eating? Are you eating to live or living to eat?

I think one of the reasons I am so passionate about writing this topic today is because I lost one of my work colleagues last night. She was in her forties and had a massive heart attack. I am just crushed that I saw her one day walking and talking and the next day she is dead. She has children and grandchildren.

My job proves to me over and over again that if you eat well, exercise, take time for yourself and minimize stress you can avoid the risk factors for heart disease and end up a statistic.

I would like to challenge everyone I know and who reads this to eat well and healthily, exercise daily if possible, do not smoke or chew tobacco, take time for yourself everyday to meditate or just have quiet time, go to the doctor to have your blood work checked, and get a baseline EKG and possibly an echocardiogram.

My personal journey with food has been a great adventure and has taught me many great lessons. I have eliminated about 98% of all processed foods. I no longer use cows milk. I have increased the amount of fruits and vegetables daily. My total cholesterol in September was 179 and the result from last week was 136. I think eliminating the processed junk is a major contributor. In addition, I have minimized the acidic producing foods and try to go with the more alkaline producing foods to eliminate inflammation.

I don't like to preach, but I tend to see a lot of repeat offenders. Stop eating the crap, eat smaller portions, quit smoking, drink water with lemon, exercise, and take your probiotics daily. Remember we have to eat to live, not live to eat.

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