The greatest love of all

Ladies, still trying to find the perfect valentine? Too often we focus our time and attention on the heart of someone else and as a result we tend to forget about our own. There is one heart that won’t turn away no matter what type of mood we may be in. One heart that won’t get fed up when we change our minds and our clothes a thousand times. Even though it is the strongest and most reliable, for years now we have taken for granted the truest of hearts — our own.

This came to mind while reading a recent study done by the American Heart Association; it revealed that fewer than half of the woman surveyed identified cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the leading cause of death in women. Shocking, considering in the year 2000, CVD took the lives of 505,661 females, while cancer — all forms combined — claimed 267,009. We seem to be conscious of breast cancer and HIV, but cardiovascular disease doesn’t seem to be a big threat. After all, it only affects fat, old, lazy men right? Wrong. CVD is the No. 1 killer of females today. So why aren’t more people worried?

Even more shocking than the numbers is the fact that more and more research is supporting the claim that the majority of deaths due to CVD may be preventable.

Think CVD is something your mom or grandmother should be worrying about but that you’re just too young? Think again. CVD should be the topic at hand for you, your mom, your grandmother — heck, even your younger sister. Another study done by the AHA found that one in six transplant hearts from teenage donors had significant blockages or plaque in at least one coronary artery. Dr. E. Murat Tuzcu, the senior author of this study, said: “These findings should raise the public’s awareness that heart disease is not just a disease of the elderly. Aggressive heart disease prevention should begin in childhood, when it’s easier to establish healthy habits and correct harmful ones, before the damage begins.”

For females of all ages, this heart-filled holiday is the perfect time to show a little love to that sacred heart within. For starters, forget about everything and everyone else in life for a second and examine your own behavior. Do you smoke? Do you workout less than three times a week? Are you overweight? Are you stressed? Is your diet high in cholesterol? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your heart may be bellowing the words of Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?”

No time for excuses, explanations or apologies — don’t dwell on all that. Just get ready to celebrate your heart out this year. Buy a new pair of running shoes to get you walking or jogging in comfort and style and a Walkman to keep motivated and prevent boredom while working out. Maybe invest in a personal training session to help jumpstart activity in your weekly routine. As for your diet, make an appointment to have your diet evaluated and improved by our campus dietician; it costs less than a lunch at Chili’s. Call Student Health Services for more information.

If money is tight this year, group fitness classes are free to all students at the Campus Recreation Center — just show up and your heart will appreciate the effort. Another great way to please your valentine this year is show that you really do care; throw out that pack of cigarettes or commit to reducing the amount you smoke until eventually that heart-damaging habit is in the dust. Finally, do whatever you can to reduce stressful situations in your life. Whether you become more active, improve your diet or reduce stress in your life makes no difference. All that matters is we start taking care of and believing in the one heart that simply can’t live without us — our own.