The Art of Taking Care of Your Heart


Technology has enabled us to do so many things. It allows us to make calendars, spread sheets, crosslink our agendas, and color coordinate them. It has given us the opportunity, not just to multitask but to uber-task as well. Technology gives us multiple ways to stratify the importance of each of those tasks, and so many different means to figure out how to delete or discard each task as we accomplish it—a crossed-out line, a checkmark. Done and done.

But there is one thing that, so far, technology has not allowed us to do. I wish it could somehow remind us all that no matter how many tasks we check off the list, if we forget about ourselves, and specifically our hearts, none of those other tasks, accomplished or not, will matter.

As the Director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill, I see patients in my office all day who are in the prime of their lives: their 30s, 40s, 50s. These women are complaining of chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness. They are not old and sick. They are just like you and me, doing it all without a safety net and a rule book, putting themselves last, and wondering how they are going to keep their lives together. I know this pattern all too well, not just because of my patients, but also because of myself.

Taking care of your heart isn’t just taking care of your health. It is looking inside and finding out what nourishes you, makes you happy, and nurtures you. As much as we believe our to-do list needs to be the center of the universe, the truth is that your heart is at the center.

Your heart is more important than technology, much more important than all those tasks you think matter so much, much more important (I can practically guarantee it) than just about anything else in your life. Without it, you cannot function—think about where that would leave the people who depend on you.

Whether or not you listen to your heart, it really is the force that must guide you. It’s an art, taking care of your heart, and it’s a habit, too. Now is the time to put your heart at the top of your list. Don’t waste another minute.

A special note from Holly Pavlika

I’m halfway through reading Suzanne’s book. I was shocked to read heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. By the time we reach the age of 60, 50 percent of us have some heart disease issue. How scary is that? So it’s time to take some action, because as Suzanne says, it’s not just an older woman’s issue, it’s happening with women of all ages. So where do you start? Here are three things to start with.

1. Take responsibility and be accountable. Start by getting a little book or starting an e-doc–your Heart Book– but start writing down what you eat and how much you exercise for starters.

2. Be honest with yourself. Weigh yourself. Admit everything you eat. And don’t forget to write down feelings.

3. Take a look in the mirror. A real hard look in the mirror. Look at each of your glorious part, but don’t forget to look at the whole. What you see on the outside is a clue to what’s going on inside. And thinness doesn’t exempt you from heart disease.

And I’d add one more thing. We all put our family first and neglect ourselves. Since starting to read Suzanne’s book, I’ve made an appointment for my annual physical. I should have done it ages ago. Thanks, Suzanne!

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