Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stress and Cardiac Disease

Twenty years ago this fall, at the age of 47, my mother had a heart attack. What followed was twenty years of tests, medicines, diets, procedures, and countless doctor's visits. Over the two decades we've learned that her heart has 3 failure modes. Thanks to advances in cardiac research and care, she is able to enjoy time with my two young children.

Earlier this week I took her to her annual cardiac appointment. And I noticed something different than when we first started going. From the doctors to nurses to fliers on the wall, the message was clear -- manage your stress to have a healthy heart. In the past I'd seen and heard information about the right diet, warning signs, walk every day. But this week it seemed that the overarching message was to manage stress. Diet and exercise play a part in it, but so does mindfulness, meditation, and battling isolation.

A course announced on one flier is titled "Skills For A Happy Heart: Learning mind-body skill helpful in the management of cardiovascular disease". It will be held at UW Health, 621 Science Dr., Madison, Wisconsin, Mondays from 11-12 starting November 7th through December 12th.

This is just an observation from the daughter of a cardiac patient. I also happen to be an estate planning and probate attorney who sees illness and death on a daily basis. Have others observed this change? Is it broader than the University of Wisconsin Cardiac Care Unit?

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