Heart disease made its debut in my life at the young age of 12. At that time, my father had a heart attack when he was 47 years old. Young, I know. He’d go on to have a few more heart-related episodes between then and 63-years-old when he passed. For years the disease has scared me in many ways as it’s taken friends and family near and far. For years I lived in fear of the condition as it wreaked havoc on my father. I never knew which time would be the last. His mom, my grandmother, died in her sleep at the age of 45 of a presumed heart attack. I never even had the chance to meet her, but I’ve been told we share so many personality traits. I laugh at the thought of how connected we are.
As we dealt with the effects on my father, my family all leaned in to understand and shed light on this disease. There were times when he spent weeks in the hospital, or we’d spend all day at the doctor’s office going from cardiology to neurology to the lab to check coumadin and other vitals. You see, heart disease affects your whole body and everyone around you. I could probably get a head-start on a career in cardiology after all that I experienced during this time. Though I lost my dad, I’m grateful that I had the chance to learn more about heart -health, and that I have the platform to inform you all on better choices for you and the people who hold your heart. My dad will always keep my heart, but I know that I’ve got a lot of living to do for all of you, my sweet husband, my family, my ancestors, my future kids, grandkids, and many more. You guys hold my heart.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death of women in the U.S. 23% of deaths by heart attacks are black people. One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
This disease has haunted so many people that I love that I’m taking a stance to understand my health conditions, and how I can live a healthier lifestyle. It doesn’t discriminate against any particular age, and that’s the common myth that we need to debunk. My husband had a friend that died on the basketball court of a heart attack when we were in our early twenties. So many times, we’re all left baffled at the results of heart-related illnesses, but we can do our parts and get heart healthy.
At current, my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family has congestive heart failure. There isn’t much treatment that can be provided for her as she is 95-years-old. Her illness may be hereditary, or it could just be what happens in older age, but she inspires me with her healthier choices that have led to a prolonged life with us. We hold her heart. This disease clearly has shown its face in many areas of my life. I’m making every day count as a result, and you should too.
Heart health isn’t always impacted by diet and exercise. Genes do play a role in it, and the more we know, the better.
I’m beginning my work with a company called Invitae. They’re a leading medical genetics company, whose mission is to bring comprehensive genetic information into mainstream medicine to improve healthcare for billions of people. The Invitae Cardio Screen looks at 77 genes to determine your risk of developing an inherited form of cardiovascular (heart) disease. The medical-quality tests offered by Invitae are the same tests trusted by doctors and genetic counselors around the world.
Based on test results, you can work with an Invitae genetic counselor and your doctor to determine the right steps to stay healthy now and in the future – taking important steps such as increased or earlier screenings, lifestyle modifications, or taking the right medications.
Stay tuned to my blog as I’ll be sharing more about this experience in the future.