Straight from the heart . . .

Straight from the heart . . .

RIP, Michael

One of my favorite actors has died.  Michael Clarke Duncan passed away yesterday at age 54 while in the hospital recovering from a July 13 heart attack.  Who can forget his stirring performance in The Green Mile or the way he made you laugh in the Whole Nine Yards?  His fiancee, Omarosa Manigault, actually performed CPR and resuscitated Duncan and, almost two months later, doctors were still performing tests to determine why his heart stopped.


I remember when I was a kid, age 54 seemed old.  Now that I'm 50, I know just how very young that is!  There is nothing like hearing that someone has died after a heart attack that it makes you pause and give thanks for the recovery you have experienced because so many don't survive.


To put it in perspective, let's look at some facts from The Heart Foundation:  


  • "Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming approximately 1 million lives annually.
  • Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease which is roughly the equivalent of a September 11th-like tragedy repeating itself every 24 hours, 365 days a year.
  • More die of heart disease than of AIDS and all cancers combined.
  • By 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death throughout the world.
  • This year more than 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack; nearly half of them will occur without prior symptoms or warning signs.
  • 250,000 Americans die annually of Sudden Cardiac Death – 680 every day of the year.
  • One-half of the victims of Sudden Cardiac Death are under the age of 65.
  • An estimated 80 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease.
  • Currently about 7.9 million Americans are alive who have had a heart attack.
  • Women account for just over half of the total heart disease deaths in the United States each year, although many women continue to think of heart disease as a man’s disease.
  • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
  • 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease; 35,000 are under age 65. Four million suffer from angina.
  • 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually; 83,000 are under age 65; 35,000 are under 55.
  • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks - six times more than the number of women who die from breast cancer."


Sobering statistics, aren't they?  Being one of those statistics, I have taken my heart attack and recovery very seriously.  While my issues with cholesterol are predominantly genetic, I will still do everything within my power to prevent  further damage to my heart.


I started this blog when I began cardiac rehab some 12 weeks ago.  This Thursday will be my last session with the group at Piedmont Medical Center and I will tell you, personally, that this is an exceptional program.  I'm not the only one who thinks so because they have receved national accredidation and the nurses on this team were also recently honored.  Anyone who survives a heart attack should complete this program if at all possible.  Today, since I "graduate" this week, I was put through a walk test and we reviewed where I was three months ago to today's results.  To witness the progress that I've made, to feel better than I have in some time, to have more energy and to know that I've been given a second chance at life makes me very determined to stay on this path.


I want to be able to share my story with other women to help them from becoming one of those statistics.  I've been very privileged to participate in a recent series of television and radio commercials for PMC's Vascular and Heart Center.  I was tickled pink to be asked to voice those commercials since I know, first-hand, what an excellent program they have and owe my life to it.  Here are the links so you can view them and, hopefully, pass them along to your friends to bring awareness about heart disease.


Piedmont Medical Center Cardiac Survivor Linda Caldwell 

Piedmont Medical Center Cardiac Survivor Ruby Gunn

Piedmont Medical Center Cardiac Survivor Frank Pruette


I've also been very grateful that Fort Mill Magazine has been sharing my blog with their readers and I will be interviewed for their podcast on Wednesday to share my story.  The notes of encouragement I've received and the opportunities for me to help women understand the importance of this issue have been so instrumental during my recovery.  I appreciate the kind words more than you know.


Thanks for reading!


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