My heart on heart health

As a 53 year old post menopausal woman, I’m not focused on how big my thighs are or what I look like in a swimsuit (the accompanying photo is merely to hopefully get you to look and read a little deeper).

For me, it’s about my health – for now and as I age. Especially heart health.

The recent death of cricketer Shane Warne and Senator Kimberley Kitching (both from Melbourne and aged 52) of heart attacks has instigated lots of conversations about heart health in day to day conversations and in our press.  The leading cause of death for people aged 45-64 in Australia is in fact heart disease. The Heart Foundation in Australia has also reported a considerable increase in enquires from people about heart health – something I’m really happy about.

As you may know, my dad died of a sudden heart attack when he was 47 (no warning, no known heart issues, no family history – he just died). I can’t begin to describe the impact my dad’s death has had on my family

It was the 29th anniversary a couple of weeks ago and I still remember that time like it was yesterday. As the oldest child, a 24 year old who had never even attended a funeral, I organised my dads. My mum was in shock, so I fumbled my way through the arrangements – selecting his coffin and flowers was, for some reason, the very hardest part.

Even 29 years later we still feel his loss. We have all missed out on so much. From walking my sister and I down the aisle on our wedding days, to seeing my brother (who was only 8 when dad died) grow into one of the most kind and caring men (and now father himself) I know, to our children not getting to spend time with my dad learning to garden and seeing the baby lambs in spring like I did as a child at my grandparents farm.

My mum lost not only the love of her life but also her future life as well. Their dreams of retiring onto a farm disintegrated on that fateful day in February – the only nice thing (if you can call it that) was that my dad died on his beloved sheep property. We planted trees in the spot where he died but sadly, the property is now sold because again, the dream life my parents had for their future could not happen without him.

Other than the big things, it’s also just the little things I still miss. To be able to call my dad and discuss everyday stuff is something that I still mourn.

My dad’s death however, was the impetus for me becoming a personal trainer and why I have spent the last 29 years so passionate about healthy ageing. I have always said that if I can impact even one person to make positive changes to their lifestyle thereby saving them from dying of heart disease and preventing another family having to go through what mine has, then I will be happy.

As a post menopausal woman, I know that other than my family history of heart disease, the change in my reproductive hormones has increased the risk of me developing heart disease. What I’m doing about that? I’m proactive with my health. I move daily, eat a relatively healthy diet and I get regular heath checks. If I see any markers moving the wrong way, then I will be making necessary changes to my lifestyle. It’s an ongoing thing for me now. I know that in order to give myself every chance at living a long, healthy life, having the opportunity to see my children become adults and possibly become a grandparent myself one day, then I must take responsibility for and advocate for my health.

To be honest, in some ways it’s empowering. While genetics do influence our lifespan, we also have so much control over how we work with what we have and ultimately how well we age. Midlife can be an opportunity to re-evaluate where we are and how we want to live the rest of our life.

I choose a vision for my future of vibrant health and happiness and my heart full of love, not of disease.

Published by

Leave a Reply