Caring for your heart through the decades

February is American Heart Month, a perfect time to reflect on the importance of keeping this most vital organ healthy throughout all the phases of life.  

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) — the umbrella term for all types of heart conditions — is the number-one killer of men and women in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, CVD claims the lives of someone every 38 seconds on average. It’s estimated that close to half of all Americans have hypertension, one of the leading causes of heart disease. These numbers underscore why it is crucial to recognize the signs of trouble and take action to reduce the risks.   

 Prescott resident David Friedman, who will be 80 this year, has always remained physically active and thought he was doing everything he needed to stay in good health. That changed in autumn 2019 when he suffered a fall for seemingly no reason while hiking Thumb Butte, resulting in a broken ankle. Shortly thereafter, he woke up and felt that something wasn’t right. Alarmed, his wife called 9-1-1. Hospital tests revealed he’d had a heart attack. Emergency staff concluded he had also likely experienced a minor heart attack while hiking several weeks earlier, causing his fall.  

Friedman says, “I didn’t have the classic symptoms you read or hear about. I didn’t have serious chest pain. I wasn’t short of breath. I just felt really bad. I knew something was wrong, and we called 9-1-1. That’s the right thing to do when you know something’s wrong. It happens differently for a lot of people.”  

After that, Friedman realized he needed to make some changes. He joined the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club and began working with Health & Fitness Manager Nick Brown. Together, the two devised a customized fitness and wellness plan, including dietary adjustments.  

Keeping one’s ticker ticking 

Now, Friedman exercises at the Touchmark Club five days per week and makes sure to do something outdoors on the weekends. “Number one, I don’t drink any carbonated sodas anymore. That’s probably the first major change I made,” says Friedman. “I’m much more sensitive to what I eat now. I try to eat lots of vegetables, and I don’t have too much red meat. For instance, my wife and I buy small portions of meat and split them. I’m not eating eight ounces of meat; I may eat half of that. We eat whole-grain bread and pasta. I don’t use or add salt hardly ever.”  

Since working with Brown, Friedman has lost 25 pounds and enjoys his new fitness routine. “The greatest thing that’s happened because of my heart attack and then starting to work out at Touchmark is that it’s become a sustainable habit for me again,” Friedman says. “A lot of guys my age are sitting around all day, not doing anything. Use it or lose it! Touchmark is very pleasant. I like the people there, it’s never too crowded, and it’s super clean.” 

Brown commends Friedman for his commitment. “Heart health is a lifelong journey that changes as we age. The exercise and diet regimen that may have worked for decades most likely needs to be adjusted as you get older and health concerns evolve,” he says.  

This approach was an “a-ha!” moment for Friedman. “For about four years before my heart attack, I was really active. I joined a gym and became a bit of a fanatic. I was going at it like crazy. I’m not going that crazy now because I’m getting older, and working at too high of a level can actually be more hurtful than helpful. I definitely have more of a balanced approach now.”  

Brown says that working with David has been a rewarding experience. “It’s always exciting to see someone progress and reach their goals, and I applaud David for encouraging others to seek flexible health and fitness options that work specifically for them.”  

This month, take stock of your health and see your physician for a heart-healthy checkup. You may find areas of your fitness and/or diet routine where you can improve and make adjustments that keep your ticker in tiptop shape. 

 More information about Touchmark Health & Fitness Club is available by calling 928-708-3133 or visiting our website. 

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