Michael Strahan's Heart to Heart

Michael Strahan's Heart to Heart

Michael Strahan's Heart to Heart

Who doesn't want their father or the person who is most influential in their life to be around as long as possible? - Michael Strahan

     
Michael Strahan's Heart to Heart
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Frightening facts a’coming.  Globally, heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women.  In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds and someone dies from heart disease-related issues every 60 seconds. This translates to 1.5 million people, or 1 in 4 men and 1 in 3 women killed by this mostly preventable disease every year.  That’s why the month of February is dedicated to heart disease - raising awareness about the risk factors, discussing ways to prevent it, and learning how to manage it.

Although certain heart related issues are unavoidable, the reality is that most cases are the result of an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle.  Which is actually good news!  This means you can manage or avoid many of the risk factors such as:  diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, poor diet and obesity that make you likely to develop heart disease.  By avoiding or managing these risk factors patients can reduce the possibility of having a heart attack or stroke by more than 80%.  

So, you know what this means. Lifestyle changes are imperative, especially with a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes.  I understand that changes can be challenging and frustrating, but they’re doable.  More doable than trying to convince someone you love that they need to make changes, right?  For example, your parents. How do you tell them that they need to get their act together, or they’ll die?  That is not a conversation I want to have. Stressful, to say the least.

Recently, Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan found himself in that very situation after his father George Strahan had a heart related health scare.  This forced Michael Strahan to have “the talk” with his father.  Michael said, “Sometimes the hardest thing to do is talk to your dad.  Looking to your parent, who’s always told you what to do for your health, and then saying, ‘I kind of need to suggest something to you,’ you have to be really sensitive about how you do it.”

Realizing that many people deal with this issue every day, Strahan partnered with Meta, a health and wellness company, to develop strategies that will help people talk to their parents, or loved ones, about making positive changes to improve their heart’s health.  And possibly save their lives.

The Approach

You must approach your parent’s/loved one’s health issues with sensitivity and respect.  They’re probably not accustomed to being told what to do by you so they’re more likely to listen if they do not feel judged or attacked.

Include siblings or other supportive family members in the conversation.  There’s power in numbers.

Lead by example.  You can’t convince someone that they need to make changes in their life when you’re obese and living on a diet of cigarettes and doughnuts.  

Don’t limit this to a one-time conversation.  It will be more impactful if it’s done through a series of conversations.  The earlier you start, and the more often you do it, the better.

That being said, if you start the conversation and you're met with denial, anger, or hostility - just stop.  Approach the subject on another day.  There will be other opportunities.  But again, lead by example...

Old Dog, New Tricks

It’s important for your parents or loved one to know that they can improve their heart’s health no matter how old they are, but it will take some effort.  Most of this will involve changes in their everyday habits.  For example:

Getting enough exercise. This means a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, like walking or gardening, 6 days a week. Yes, 6.

Quit smoking.  They know the risks involved.  We all do.  It’s a no-brainer.

Eat a healthy diet. This includes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limited amounts of saturated fats, meat, salt, and sugar.  This means that the senior specials from various restaurants are out.  Those will kill them.

Watch your numbers. This includes weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  The older we get the more important it is to know these numbers and have regular check-ups. Annual visits to the doctor are critical because they monitor specific issues that affect the heart and if a problem is found the doctor will make sure that it is controlled by lifestyle modifications or medication.

It’s Never too Late

Many seniors believe that heart disease is inevitable in old age.  In truth, there are plenty of ways to keep your heart in great shape.  By making simple changes, you can be in your 70’s and 80’s and live a healthy, happy, active life.

But you must educate yourself about the dangers of heart disease.  Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

You can help by spreading the word about ways to prevent heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives.  As Michael Strahan said, “Who doesn't want their father or the person who is most influential in their life to be around as long as possible?”   So, educate yourself and have a heart to heart with your parents or loved ones. Today.

 

Image by:  torange.us


Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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Last Updated : Thursday, September 28, 2017