“Learning by Heart” by Nikolaos Gyzis
It’s funny the twists and turns the course of our lives takes sometimes. Last month we were concerned with moving my failing 97-year-old aunt from elderly housing into my father’s house where my sister, her husband and a couple of home-care aides could make her last days as comfortable as possible. Auntie is hanging in there for now, even perking up occasionally now that she is settled in her new digs.
Sometimes we find ourselves bracing for one event when another unanticipated one appears on the scene. Toward the end of August my hard-working, stressed-out husband had an attack of angina late one night (or was it early one morning?) and landed himself in the hospital. Zounds! But the silver lining to that cloud was that son Nate flew up from Georgia and daughter Larisa came by train from New York and we found ourselves swathed in comforting layers of love and support.
This setback in Tim’s struggle with heart disease has left me frustrated and angry with his doctors. Predictably, I went on a search for a new book to give me some fresh ideas about how to proceed from here. After nearly a year on the vegan diet there has been no improvement in Tim’s health which has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Truly, there are no simple answers.
The book I found, published just this year, is scientifically way over my head, but I’m learning. Learning by heart. About the endothelium layer of the arterial wall. About endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, hypertension, and blood sugar. That there are more kinds of cholesterol than you can shake a stick at!
It seems the traditional 5 risk factors for heart disease (elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking) are not the only ones doctors should be paying attention to. Of the 20 top risk factors there are, elevated cholesterol does not even make the list. Hypertension is #6, diabetes is #11, obesity is #19, and smoking is #20.
For now I am focusing on #1, endothelial dysfunction and what we can do about it. We can do nothing about #8, genetics, but it is interesting to know that there are myriads of genetic mutations causing different biochemical reactions that each play different roles in the development and progression of heart disease.
On a heart happy note, in the middle of all the other excitement, Larisa and her boyfriend Dima got engaged! It’s so nice to have a wedding to look forward to next year, and I’ve been told it will be very unique, non-traditional and unpretentious. Yes!!! ♥