Don’t Miss A Beat-Beat Heart Disease!

Hi Everyone! Being born in the mid-60’s and being the youngest of six kids-especially an older sister-I was inadvertently introduced to a weekly half-hour TV show called the Monkees. Being only a toddler, I really didn’t get it but thirty years later I was able to experience and appreciate this 1960’s pop phenomenon. You see-it was my sister Sandy’s 48th birthday and it was also the Monkees 30th anniversary tour. What a perfect gift! For years my sister reflected back to her sixteenth birthday party in 1967 when she saw the teen idols live at the Convention Center in Philadelpia, PA. And imagine-Jimmy Hendrix opened for the Monkees!

To make my sister’s birthday even more special-I surprised her with a signed photo with a special birthday wish from her favorite Monkee-Micky Donlenz. Through the act of getting this autographed photo-I met the band’s sound engineer and production manager at the time, Todd Trepiccione. Today Todd is my right hand man and production manager for my production company. I always joke “Todd see’s the cartoon in my head and brings my vision to life.”

Since 1997-I had the opportunity, on several occasions, to meet the members of the Monkees. I must admit one of the most vibrant and friendliest of the band had to be Davy Jones-this passionate performer would never turn away a fan and truly appreciated his position in life. That’s why it truly breaks our heart that we’ve recently lost Davy to heart disease. This talented 66 year old who loved life, had a passion for horses, and nowhere in his vocabulary would you find the word “retirement”, was deeply dedicated to his family and fans.

Many folks are asking…isn’t 66 too young to have a heart attack? The answer (drum roll please!): No, according to the American Heart Association, Davy Jones was actually right on target.  The average age of first heart attack is 66 for men, 70 for women. Sadly, where Davy differs from the norm is that a heart attack does not have to kill. Approximately 75 percent of men and 60 percent of women live at least one year and often much longer after a heart attack. Key thing to survival is rapid response and quick treatment. And that means being familiar with the risk factors for heart attack so you can protect yourself. You can check your heart health by logging onto the American Heart Association’s handy risk assessment tool

It’s also very important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack so you can act quickly as possible once it starts. Pain in the chest is the most common and typical sign of a heart attack. But there are many other signs of heart attack, too, that are often missed.

Signs Of A Heart Attack: 

  1. A clenching sensation in the chest. Blockages of fatty deposits in an artery can reduce or cut off the blood supply to the heart, causing what feels like tightness, squeezing, or pain — most typically in the chest but sometimes lower down.
  2. Neck, shoulder or jaw pain. During a heart attack, nerves from damaged heart tissue send pain signals up and down the spinal cord to junctures with nerves that extend out into the neck and shoulder, down the arm, or even up into the jaw. Numbness or tingling may radiate up or down as well.
  3. Nausea, stomachache or indigestion. A bout of severe indigestion and nausea can be an early sign of heart attack, particularly in women. In one study, women were more than twice as likely as men to experience vomiting, nausea, and indigestion, even months before a heart attack.
  4. The inability to catch your breath. When too little blood is getting through the arteries to carry sufficient oxygen to the heart, the result is breathlessness. It’s often described by heart attack patients as the same feeling you’d have at high altitude; like you can’t draw enough oxygen into your lungs. Some people also experience a sharp pain when they try to draw in a breath.
  5. Dizziness and light-headedness. Lack of oxygen can make you feel like you’re going to fall or pass out. Sometimes this feeling makes people think they’re having a panic attack rather than a heart attack.

Be pro-active! Know your numbers and protect your heart health! Here are the basics:

  1. Maintain blood pressure below 120/80
  2. Maintain cholesterol below 200
  3. Lose weight until you’re within the normal BMI range (18.5-24.9)

Heart disease is a leading killer in this country, so taking the proper steps to keep your heart healthy is so important. Here are some simple things you can do to keep your heart in tip-top shape:

The Doctor Is In: Get your blood pressure tested and your cholesterol checked on a regular basis to make sure your numbers are at a healthy level.

Exercise On A Regular Basis — even 20 minutes a day will do the trick. Select an activity that will get your heart rate up, such as light jogging, swimming , in-line skating, a salsa dancing class, kickboxing, bike riding or tennis-pick one that you enjoy!

Eat more heart-healthy foods, including fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cheese and skim or low-fat milk.

Stress Less:  Long-term uncontrolled stress can cause chronic conditions like high blood pressure, so it’s important to take the right steps to keep it under control. Next time you’re feeling stressed, take a break somewhere comfortable and quiet and focus on taking deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Activities like taking a bath, listening to calming music and exercising are also great stress-reducers.

If you smoke, it’s time to quit: This is a deadly habit! Cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States today.

Start Walking: Do you walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day? If not, it’s a great health goal to strive for! Invest in a pedometer and start walking! 10,000 steps burns approximately 300 calories and, over time, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.


If these lifestyle changes seem overwhelming, consider the alternative. Hopefully, the death of Davy Jones’ can serve as good motivation to keep you pursuing your passions in life as long as you can.


Remember-it’s Your Life  Live It..And Live It Well!


Dr. Anna Marie

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