Protecting the Heart

I just swallowed a fish oil capsule.

This really shouldn’t qualify as the “news of the day”–except for the fact that I am (or maybe was) a vegetarian.

But on Thursday everything changed.

I went to my doctor for my annual physical; and what is customarily a relatively pleasant or at worst an uneventful annual episode on an early December afternoon turned into something quite different.  I went in with a list of what I now see were fairly benign complaints–allergies and the like–and left with a preliminary diagnosis of Stage Two hypertension.  My blood pressure, which has always been low, had suddenly catapulted to 168/96.  My doctor asked if I were nervous or stressed or upset about anything; and when I replied that I nearly fell asleep in his waiting room I was truly that relaxed, he registered discernible concern.

He ordered the typical battery of blood tests and scheduled an appointment for me in February to check it again.  Tonight I received the results.  And while I am grateful that nearly everything came back, in the words of the nurse, “boringly normal,” my triglyceride level was quite high.  That coupled with the high blood pressure and a significant family history of heart disease has made me sit up and take notice.

I know what it’s going to take to improve my chances of avoiding a heart attack–exercising more, eating more healthful foods, which is what I have vowed to do–starting now.  However, one of the best known weapons in the fight against heart disease is fish (particularly salmon and tuna) and fish oil; and this, of course, runs counter to my vegetarianism.

When I made the decision to become a vegetarian, it was for health reasons to be sure but also philosophical.  I never was comfortable with the idea of eating meat and had a difficult time digesting it to boot.  So, crossing over, so to speak, was easy enough to do.  But now, eight years later, I have an even better reason–make that many reasons–to reintroduce at least fish to my diet.

When you are lucky enough to be married to your best friend and you’re given the honor of raising three boys with hearts as big as the world, I think you also have a responsibility to protect your own: And with that, I fully intend to walk into the doctor’s office in February, have him take my blood pressure and test my cholesterol and say, “Now, that’s more like it.”

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2 thoughts on “Protecting the Heart

  1. Thank you! I hope so, too. But, you know, if it’s not, then I will have done everything I could have done–and we will move on to Plan B. 🙂

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