Up until this year September 29 had no particular significance for me, it was just an ordinary autumn day, but things have changed from now on after I found out that this date is the official World Heart Day. This event, whose role is obviously to raise awareness globally on the necessity of doing our best to protect our hearts from the numerous threats which can drastically reduce our lifespan, definitely deserves to be promoted and endorsed everywhere on this planet, with an emphasis on the poor and developing countries in which more than 80% of the deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases occur, according to the World Heart Federation.
Since I live in a developing country I am perfectly aware of the devastating effects which negative factors like poverty, ignorance, lack of physical activity and stress have on the health of people. Sadly during the last few years there are more and more cases of young people who die of a heart attack or a stroke in my country: a few of them were famous people whose deaths had a profound impact on the society in general since their cases are largely presented and discussed upon in the media, while most of these people remain anonymous, their untimely demise being mourned by their families and friends on social media, but regardless of their wealth, social status on so on, they could and should have lived much longer.
Under these circumstances every initiative meant to open people’s eyes and minds on the necessity of taking care of our hearts is more than welcome. I took part in such an event earlier today in which schoolchildren marched for the heart and distributed leaflets containing some statistics about heart disease worldwide and, more importantly, the measures people can take to make some positive changes in their lives to the adults they encountered in the streets, and the reaction of those people was clearly positive. They were interested in the content of those flyers and I’m sure most of them read those pieces of information carefully.
Such actions, which certainly took place in many other parts of the world, are definitely worth the effort if even a handful of persons decided to take some actions in the right direction, but obviously they work only if the individuals to whom those messages are addressed have enough will to try to help themselves before it’s too late. No one can force a grown-up person to stop smoking, or stop drinking heavily, or make some physical exercise if that person doesn’t want to be helped. The change has to come from within ourselves, after all we are the masters of our destinies.
It is also true that, even if we to quit smoking, drink with moderation and try to get regularly involved in physical activities, there are no guarantees that we won’t suffer from heart disease at a relatively young age, because we have other formidable enemies such as stress, tension, everyday worries which drain us of resources and energy and often prevent us from seeing the bright side of enemies. Stress in general is in my opinion more difficult to deal with than the other elements I mentioned earlier in this post, and if it’s combined with them it often leads to tragic consequences, and to be honest it is the factor I fear the most when I think about my heart and the things I need to do to keep it in a good shape.
There is definitely no way to eliminate stress completely, unless you live under a rock or on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, away from the civilized world and its evil ways. The rest of us have to live with it and try to diminish it, and certainly dedicating at least a few minutes a day to those activities which make us feel better and thus prevent our stress level to reach a boiling point which could have fatal results for our hearts.
September 29 is a date I will remember from now on, but it isn’t necessarily a special day because from the point of view of the attention we have to give to our heart every day should be special. We have only one heart and we have to do our best to help it function properly day after day; after all, life’s a precious gift that we can’t afford to waste!
Photo credit: Pixabay Public Domain