The sudden and premature passing of Kevin Kamenetz should give us all time to pause and reflect why such a health conscious individual died suddenly at the age of 60. Perhaps the only hint came at his funeral service when his wife Jill noted that Kevin looked tired. In fact, he had been working very long hours in his bid to become the next Governor of Maryland. From all reports, Kevin had no history of heart disease, did not smoke, ate a healthy diet and ran on a platform to improve the education and health of Marylanders. In fact, just last week Kevin signed a County executive order requiring all vending machines to sell only nutritious items.
So why did this seemingly healthy appearing individual in the prime of his life, die so suddenly? Unfortunately, it’s a question that cardiologists encounter all too frequently.
While the majority of young men and women who die suddenly from a heart related event have 1 or more risk factors (cigarette smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides), at least 1 in 3 do not. But the one universal feature they all share is a body overridden by stress. So if a friend or loved one tells you that you look “worn out”, take them seriously-
Here are 5 ways to help manage daily stress and improve your positive emotion quotient (PEQ) to make the most of today… and tomorrow.
- Recharge: Take time each day for yourself to reflect, collect your thoughts and most importantly, catch your breath. Feeling rushed on a daily basis amps up release of stress chemicals to wreak havoc on your heart.
- Exhale: and slowly inhale too as breathing exercises are among the best ways to release endorphins and de-stress.
- Laugh: Another way to release endorphins- As our research indicates, laughter also helps to maintain health of the inner lining of our blood vessels (endothelium) and keep stress chemicals at bay.
- Appreciate: Don’t wait until tomorrow to enjoy today. As Kevin’s wife Jill said at her husband’s memorial service …they postponed celebrating recent milestone birthdays because of the upcoming election. Hug your loved ones daily and celebrate important milestones when they occur rather than delay…there may not be a tomorrow.
- Xerox: Routinely replace photos in your home, office, wallet (or phone) that brighten your day. Positive imagery activates brain regions that help to heal the heart.
- Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His most recent book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” has been Amazon’s Top Rated book in heart disease for the past 3 years.