It’s always a ton of excitement to have family gatherings. This last time was occasioned by the wedding of one of my nieces. As I made the out of parish trip with my eldest brother who lived abroad it was a most engaging and enlightening ride. He told me amazing things about my dad; things I had no clue of. And as I had wished so many times before, I found myself wishing all over again, that I knew my dad. You see, he died when I was only 2 years old – I have no recollection of him.
Dada, as he was called, died of coronary thrombosis; he went to bed one night and did not make it through. I heard that when as a baby I heard that he was dead, instead of scooting over him as I usually did, I took pains that morning to go around him to exit the bed. Although he was an obviously bright man, and a public health inspector no less, he is reported to have shown great ignorance in what constituted an appropriate diet. He loved pork, it is said, and often when the meat was seemingly not enough to gratify his craving, he’d gulp down the residual oil (gravy). Not surprisingly, He died at 40, leaving behind an unqualified and an unemployed mother of 8 children, the oldest (the brother mentioned earlier) being 14 years. But thank God, He was true to the word, “When my father and my mother forsake me (die), then the Lord will take me up;” He remained our only father, and we have all been brought past the worst (as the expression goes). But the premature death of our father did not happen without major consequences to all our lives.
Her face wore a pain that was beyond the reaches of pretence; it was pronounced; it was palpable. I had never seen someone go through so much obvious mental anguish. Never in her wildest imagination did Olive see herself burying her larger than life husband. He’d barely gone past 40 years old – still full of dreams and an insatiable passion for life. The recollection of the story makes for a sad tale.
Not only was it the first day of the year, but it was also his birthday and their wedding anniversary. The day was off to an excellent start, and all things remaining equal, it was going to be a phenomenal day.
They had just finished a refreshing family worship, and were about to break out into doing morning chores, when he suddenly gripped his chest. By reflex action she gave him an aspirin and rushed upstairs to change her clothes; he had to be rushed to the hospital immediately. No sooner had she gone up and there were piercing screams coming from the living room. The children were frantic from fright and fear. “Oh God no,” her heart began to pounding with intensified anxiety. There weren’t many options in assuming what must be happening downstairs. And sure enough as she made her way downstairs, there he was, sprawled on the ground, his life fearfully oozing out by every merciless second. In short order, with the assistance of a neighbour they were on their way to the hospital. Would they make it in time?
Alas the journey would prove treacherously long, and before they could reach the hospital, he breathed his last; he was dead. In only a few horroring minutes of normal, happy family activities the family was wrenched from the joy and security of a husband and father. Cause of death: a massive cardiac arrest.
Scripture says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Prov. 4: 23. Although the primary spiritual application of this passage speaks to the care of the mind, it makes more sense when we understand that what the mind is to the human soul is what the physical heart is to the human body.
Here are some tips on taking care of your heart:
Heart Disease Prevention
Treatment of heart disease can be difficult. That’s why it's better to try to prevent these health conditions, particularly in people with known cardiovascular disease risks. But how do you prevent heart disease? How do you maintain good heart health?
It may seem simple, but for the most part, lifestyle plays a huge role in keeping the heart healthy and reducing cardiovascular disease risks. Many of these suggestions are probably familiar to most people. They include:
- Managing your stress levels
- Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods low in fat and cholesterol — maintaining a mostly plant-based diet
- Becoming active (at least 30 minutes per day) and either maintaining your current weight or losing weight if you are overweight.
- Monitoring your blood pressure. If it’s high, get it under control following your doctor’s guidelines.
- Screening your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If your numbers have increased, you may be able to reverse the trend.
- Following treatment guidelines if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you have or any symptoms you notice. The earlier heart problems are detected, the better the chance you can begin treatment before any long-term damage has occurred.