Get your heart checked during the month of love

heartsI lay there, flat on my back with that crinkly, doctor’s-office paper announcing every time I shifted. Blood pressure cuffs on my arms and legs squeezed me like amiable snakes, while a technician ran an ultrasound probe across the veins and arteries of my neck and abdomen.

“This would be scary if I was really sick,” I thought to myself as flopped there helplessly as machines gently hummed and beeped in the background.

I was at Mercy Hospital’s Physician Plaza in Rogers undergoing a vascular screening my wife had set up for me.

My mother always insisted we came from good stock. I’ve often joked that seemed dubious, since her side of the family tended to keel over at the drop of a hat. Her brother died of a massive heart attack, my mother died fairly young from a sudden stroke and my older sister recently weathered a minor stroke of her own.

The jokes, which I made for years concerning coming from “good stock”, followed by my sister’s illness, were the last straw. My wife had had enough. I was not going to keel over on her watch.

When some of her friends at Mercy mentioned  that they were offering a battery of tests for a flat $100 fee during American Heart Month in February, she signed me up and told me I was going.

So I went.

In addition to the vascular screening, I got my finger stabbed and blood drawn and had an EKG. When all the data was compiled, I had a nice talk with a nurse practitioner about my results. It maybe took an hour all told.

No blockages, decent EKG, good blood-pressure – there was a little glitch on my HDL an LDL, the good and bad cholesterol, that the nurse wanted me to ask my doctor about at my next physical. She said I need to get back into regular, vigorous exercise, watch what I eat, add more fruit and vegetables but it didn’t appear that keeling over was in the near future.

It was good news and I was relieved. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and no respecter of gender.

So, if you’re a guy, go get screened and insist your spouse does the same. If you’re a woman, just do what my wife did and make an appointment for your hubby, or any other guys you love and get them tested (we guys are notoriously bad about setting these things up on our own. Sorry, ladies).

February is the month of love and hearts.  Get yours checked and encourage others to do the same.

Show the love. It’s the best Valentine you can give.

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