If you’ve thought that, you’re not alone. People often think of heart disease as a part something that happens as you “get old.” But even young to middle-aged adults can have a heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction or MI. Over the years, I’ve seen men as young as 24-years old, and a woman who was just 18, suffer a heart attack—young people who never gave heart disease a second thought.
This issue was once again brought home for me with Sylvester Stallone’s recent interview on Good Morning America. He revealed that the death of his son Sage, just 36 years of age, was caused by a heart attack. Nothing is more unnatural, or heartbreaking, for a parent than to be predeceased by their child. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Unfortunately Sage isn’t alone. Recently actor Michael Clarke Duncan died of a heart attack at the age of 54. Plus, Starship guitarist Mark Abrahamion, just 46 years of age, suffered a deadly heart attack backstage following a concert.
The poignant lesson here is that it’s never too early to take care of your heart:
- Exercise is vital. Inactivity is the single most prevalent risk factor for heart disease, so it’s important to get moving. Whether you walk, dance, or play a sport, you want to get at least 30 minutes of activity a day.
- If you smoke, quit. Sage Stallone was not alone in smoking a couple of packs daily. Smoking is hard on the heart because it slowly pushes up blood pressure at the same time that it encourages blood to clot; a lethal combo. Reportedly, the young actor was making moves to quit, but tragically time was not on his side.
- Know the signs of a heart attack—and don’t dismiss them because you’re young. Just last month comedienne Rosie O’Donnell had a close call with her heart, and was saved by an emergency stent procedure. Rosie’s “lesson” was a wake-up call to all of us to recognize the symptoms of heart disease.
- Don’t wait until the fourth or fifth decade of life to start following a heart-healthy lifestyle. We may not have those years to procrastinate in our youth that we think we have. In fact, we need to reinforce to our children, and grandchildren, that heart health is important and give them a healthy example to follow. This can be easier said than done. I know because I have one delightful nine-year-old -granddaughter with a health condition who pleads “Grandpa, please stop making great vitamins for me to take: I don’t like them.” Luckily, her parents allow her protest, but insist on the vitamins.
Most of you blog followers are here at drsinatra.com because you are already health conscious, and I commend you! For those of you new to the content you can find here, I hope you take the time to peruse the many resources my team at Healthy Directions has helped me put together, including quick and easy recipes to help you follow a healthy lifestyle no matter how busy you are.
Now, it’s your turn: What motivates to keep yourself heart healthy?