Retirement Communities

Heart health—up close and personal

Health & Wellness Article - February 2012
by Marge Coalman, EdD, Touchmark Vice President, Wellness & Programs
We all have moments of insight that clarify and define our perspective and concerns. A defining moment for me was when I was on my way to the office and stopped at a warning light to allow pedestrians to cross in the fog and rain.
I realized the four people crossing the street represented a broad spectrum of individuals at risk for heart disease that may require intervention and support to be able to enjoy tomorrow:
  • Pedestrian 1 was a teenage girl lighting her cigarette in weather that was challenging, at best. Her head was down, and she seemed oblivious to traffic.
  • Pedestrian 2 was a woman overweight by at least 100 pounds who was focused on her cell phone and would not make it across the intersection in the allotted time.
  • Pedestrian 3 was a young man—about 16—smoking, eating a hamburger, and talking on his phone.
  • Pedestrian 4 was an older man who pushed his walker, paused, rested, and moved forward as best he could. Everyone waited for him to cross the intersection before proceeding.
This particular moment defined many of the major concerns regarding the risks for heart disease:
  • Young people (or people of any age) who smoke are apparently unaffected by all the warnings and research about the consequences of that habit.
  • Obesity affects one in three American adults and is a primary risk factor for heart disease.
  • Physical limitations can contribute to a number of risk factors associated with heart health, including not being able to get the recommended 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week.
The prevention and intervention information to maintain a healthy heart is well known:
  • Do not smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Have 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.
  • Pay attention to your diet.
  • See your physician for regular checkups.
  • Manage high blood pressure.
  • Maintain healthy relationships with family and friends.
All of that advice—well intentioned and not personalized-is available to most of us. To access information that deals with individual concerns and recommendations requires input from your personal physician and follow-up habits for lifestyle choices.
At Touchmark, the Full Life™ program is available to help people personalize the heart-healthy principles and practices needed to achieve one´s goals. Contact a Touchmark Life Enrichment/Wellness director to support a positive lifestyle that will lead to enhanced heart health.
For more information, visit the American Heart Association (, Canadian Heart and Stroke Association (, and American Stroke Association (