A lasting news flash

The death of NBC’s Tim Russert Friday touched millions of Americans who counted on him to keep the big boys honest.

The manner of his passing should also ring home with African-Americans for whom cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of early death.

My own father passed at 58 from a massive heart attack at work, like Russert.

During a recent examination, my doctors advised me that I was suffering from high levels of cholesterol. They gave me three months to reduce it through diet and exercise.  That was complicated by a foot procedure soon thereafter.

That just made me think harder about it.  Without running, my normal form of strenuous exercise, I’ve been able to lose eight pounds.   A couple of weeks ago, I visited a church health fair where I was told that the reduction in weight had reduced my “health age” to four years younger than my actual age.

The reinforcement motivated me to work even harder, eat more oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and to drink more water.  I’m noticing that I’m a lot lighter and harder to get winded, even when going up several flights of stairs.

Russert’s death, in which cholesterol-based plaque apparently broke off and created a clot in his blood vessels, is powerful new motivation.   It’s a scenario I could face if I don’t stay on the regimen.

So far I haven’t had to resort to any drugs and haven’t had to dramatically change my routine.  I’ll go for my followup in about a month.

The news will turn to other stories, like the politics Russert loved, but I encourage joining me in keeping this story at the forefront of your personal archive.

If you haven’t had a lipids test lately or a stress echogram, don’t stay in the dark.  This is one condition that can be reversed with lifestyle changes. But if you don’t know, it could sneak up on you at the worst possible time.

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