Once a person experiences a health-related event, they usually make lifestyle changes to improve their situation. I am one of those lucky people who survived to make that lifestyle change… and it happened to me twice. I came home one evening in 2004 after a long day and experienced a heart attack, which led to 5 stents. Four years later, an annual stress test identified some irregular heartbeats, which was followed by triple bypass surgery. Today, I can say I have completed over 25 century (100-mile) rides AND my first Ironman® triathlon…all because I paid attention to what my body was telling me. I am particularly happy to address the topic of this year’s Men’s Health Week, in that I am still here to celebrate my daughter’s wedding this summer.

Men’s Health Week is celebrated annually the week prior to, and including, Father’s Day. This week sets the spotlight on preventable health problems, the early detection and treatment of disease in men (as well as “soon-to-be” men). But the reality is that these issues typically involve the entire family, because of the enormous impact.

With our busy lives, we often overlook the need to reduce salt in our diet, we are desk jockeys so much of the day that physical activity decreases, and even with normal workday stress, we lose sight of the importance of monitoring and controlling blood pressure. Again, the key word is “preventable.” We can control our diet, even when we have to squeeze in that quick lunch between meetings; yes, sometimes it is a nuisance, but we may need to get to the gym early in the morning for a 30-minute jog on the treadmill; and we may need to learn to say “no” and let others assume responsibility for their own actions.

The good news is that once the family is aware of the risks, there is support at home for the changes men need to make to stay healthy. Even better, the family will often join in the effort. My daughter, though she didn’t ride a bicycle at the time (she does now), often drove the support vehicle for our team rides. If I mentioned wanting to get a long ride done on a weekend, there were always volunteers ready to ride with me. I take my turn on the kayak supporting swim practices, and the next time those swimmers return the favor.

It is important to take the time to recognize these issues, and what can be done about them. For example, you have an opportunity to learn how to protect your heart. Join the Men’s Health Week Facebook chat presented by The American Heart Association and Million Hearts™. On Wednesday, June 13th, from 5:30 – 6:30, three experts will address heart health. Join in at https://www.facebook.com/events/238993949537344.

Pay attention to your health. You have this opportunity to do something positive about you, for you and for your family. Some won’t get the second, or third, chance that I did.


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The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.