Just had a sobering visit with the cardiologist. Don't worry, my heart is AOK! Turns out my chest pains earlier this year were just a panic response due to some specific and underlying stress in my work and personal life. No sign of arterial damage/dysfunction, either, nor do I have any genetic susceptibilities for heart disease. But my bloodwork and stress exercise test showed that I am, medically, OUT OF SHAPE. And, at age 42, I can't rely on youth to bail me out any more. I've been eating too much, and exercising too little. Time to balance my own biological budget or I face serious long-term health consequences.
The cardiologist wrote me a "prescription" on her pad that gives my target exercise heart rate, and says "30 mins, 5x/wk". She said I MUST improve my diet (less saturated fat, judicious use of other fats, smaller portions, whole grains) as well. I've been exercising, at most, an hour a week and eating beautiful organic food that trends towards fattiness -- gourmet cheeses and meats, cultured butter on toast, farmhouse cream on berries, granola; but also a decent amount of fresh fruit and salads and vegetables, and lots of water and unsweetened tea. I'm 5'5" and 180 lbs.
I realize I am lucky. I have everything I need to live a healthy life: medical insurance, adequate salary, access to healthy food and knowledge of how to prepare it, and a living environment that is one of the most walkable communities in the United States. The one thing I'm short of is willpower. Especially when there are gourmet goodies all around this town -- Brooklyn has become a foodie nexus these past few years, brimming with artisanal everything: beer, meats, cupcakes, ice cream, chocolates.
Have you had any experience with heart disease? Either your own, or a friend's or loved one's? What would you, or they, say to someone in my position, standing at a fork in the road? Don't hold back if you have some really scary or awful stories to tell. I think I need to hear them.