Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and a major cause of disability; in fact, every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Taking steps to prevent heart disease by knowing the signs, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and discussing heart disease with your doctor can save lives and the rising costs of treatment.
We caught up with actress Andie MacDowell to get the beat on the Time to Talk CARDIO program, the importance of taking an active role in your health, and beginning a dialogue with your caregiver.
SheKnows: Why did you want to get involved in creating awareness about this new program?
MacDowell: I have enjoyed being involved with the program because I have personally benefitted from it. Time to Talk CARDIO is a tool that has helped me learn to be proactive in my health.
SheKnows: Do you have a personal history with heart disease?
MacDowell: My mother died of a heart attack at the age of 53. I will be 53 next year, and as I have gotten closer to this age, I began to worry about my heart.
SheKnows: Why is talking to your doctor an important first step in protecting heart health?
MacDowell: My mother was never comfortable with doctors and sadly she avoided going to get the help that could have saved her life. I also began to notice that I didn't feel comfortable asking my doctor questions that might alleviate my own fears. I believe that my problem with being confident in asking questions and having a meaningful conversation with my doctor is common, and that many people find themselves not getting the answers they wish they had.
SheKnows: Can you describe your current relationship with your doctor?
MacDowell: Now I have a good relationship with my doctor and I am fearless with my questions. I understand the importance of being my own advocate, and I learned important skills from the videos on TimetoTalkCARDIO.com. Some of the skills that I have found useful are making a list of all the important details and questions I have about my health, and repeating back any important information the doctor gives me before I leave the room.
SheKnows: What are some basic lifestyle changes people can make to protect their heart and improve their overall health?
MacDowell: We all need to exercise every day and this should be something that we find time to do. It can be walking, taking the stairs and other small steps that can be incorporated into your everyday routine. I work at least 12 hours a day when filming a movie, but I always get my workout in. I love doing this for myself and it is my gift to my heart. Also, the more you eat food that is in its most natural state, the healthier you will be. Eat more fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken, and avoid processed foods.
SheKnows: What age should people really start taking good care of themselves with diet, exercise, no smoking, regular doctor visits, and so on?
MacDowell: Teaching our children how to eat healthy, exercise, and enjoy having a healthy lifestyle will not only help them live longer, but it will help them have happier lives. Parents can be encouraged to make healthy choices, not only for themselves, but also to set examples for their children.
SheKnows: What are the three most important things that you do every day to keep healthy and happy? What do you recommend for others?
MacDowell: I wish I could teach people how to love to exercise because I believe this is my gift and blessing. I feel so much better when I do some form of exercise every day, and so it is never hard for me to do because I enjoy it. I love to walk fast, jog, bike, and hike, and I have even learned to enjoy lifting weights, which I used to not like doing.
I also do yoga on a regular basis, because it not only makes my muscles strong, but it also helps me maintain flexibility and mobility. I have even gotten taller in the last two years because of my dedication to the practice. As we get older normally we shrink, get stiff and lose agility, but I find that with a good yoga practice you can maintain all of these qualities.
Learning to enjoy eating healthy and exercising is my gift to myself. I would love to share this gift with others, and encourage people to be proactive in learning all they can about being the best advocate for themselves.
Time to Talk CARDIO is designed to help patients and health care professionals have more productive conversations about heart health.
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