Friday, January 21, 2011

The Current-Feature Story February 2011

National Heart Month
Remember what you looked and felt like a couple months ago, before the cold weather arrived and you stopped exercising and gathered for countless holiday dinners and drank too much and smoked too much and stressed out over your spouse’s excessive holiday spending?  Well, my friends, the holidays are over, and even if the cold weather is here for a little longer, there is no better time than now to again start thinking about getting healthy, especially considering that February is National Heart Month.
Considering the sheer volume of information that is now available to us as a population, it is amazing how often we tend to neglect heart health.  If you picture your body as a car, your brain would be the driver and your heart the engine.  If you don’t service your engine regularly then you’re not going to get near the mileage out of it that you should.  Of course, some drivers are harder on their vehicles than they should be, and others should never have been allowed behind the wheel, but let’s not lose focus here.
It was recently announced that Hollywood plans to remake (or is it re-imagine?) that classic of American cinema, The Wizard of Oz.  Sounds like a bad idea, right?  I would argue that a re-imagining could provide a unique opportunity to inform and educate audiences on the importance of heart health.  So I humbly submit the following as an example of the potential merits of such an endeavor.
“Why are you so sad, Tin Man?” Dorothy asked.
“I don’t have a heart,” the Tin Man sighed.
“That’s not possible,” the Scarecrow argued, “You would be unable to live without a heart.  You probably just don’t practice good heart health.  Are you a smoker?”
“Two packs a day,” the Tin Man replied.
“Oh my,” Dorothy cried, “You really must quit.  Did you know smoking greatly increases your chances of developing atherosclerosis?”
“Atherosclerosis?  That sounds scary,” the Lion whimpered.
“It is, Lion,” Dorothy explained, “Atherosclerosis is a fatty build up in the arteries which can lead to further problems including heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke.”
“I don’t understand all those big words,” the Scarecrow grumbled.
“Quiet, Scarecrow,” Dorothy said, “It’s not national brain month.”
“I guess I really should quit smoking,” the Tin Man said, “But what other steps can I take to practice good heart health?”
“Monitoring your diet is essential,” Dorothy went on, “How would you describe your eating habits?”
“Well,” the Tin Man replied, “My entire diet consists of oil.”
“That can’t be good,” the Lion said.
“It’s not, Lion,” Dorothy agreed, “Oil derived from animal products can result in high levels of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream, which in turn can lead to clogged arteries and increased risk of heart attack.  Atherosclerosis strikes again.”
“Oh my,” the Tin Man cried.
“Oh my, indeed,” Dorothy said, “You really should eat a more balanced diet.”
“I will, Dorothy,” the Tin Man said, “Is there anything else I can do for my heart?”
“Manage stress and exercise,” Dorothy said, “in fact, according to the American Heart Association, every hour you spend walking can add two hours to your life.  We can get started right now by taking a walk down this yellow brick road.”
“Exercise?  I’ll give it a try.  But I should warn you, I might be a little rusty,” the Tin Man replied with a wink, eliciting laughter from them all.
“Dorothy?” the Lion asked as they walked along arm in arm.
“What is it, Lion?” Dorothy said.
“Now that you’ve helped the Tin Man, do you suppose you could help me to find courage?” he went on.
“Courage?” Dorothy said, “Why don’t you just try not being such a sissy?”
But you don’t have to write a potentially award-winning scene in a much-needed reboot of an American classic to make a difference.  With cardiovascular disease and stroke being the number one causes of death in Oklahoma, you can do your part by simply making miniscule changes in your own lifestyle, even with something as small as altering your diet or exercising more. 
For more information regarding everything you might ever need to know about heart health, visit the American Heart Association online at   Or you can visit the American Heart Association in Tulsa located at 2227 E. Skelly Dr. where you can find information about volunteer programs and CPR classes.