Alert
Close

Last chance – give now. Before 2014 ends, help struggling seniors. Donate

HIGHLIGHTS

Close

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP REALPAD

Introducing RealPad by AARP

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Editor's Letter

Swimming Just Saved My Life

Over a million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year. Where are you on the cardiac risk chart?

bmi tool

BMI Calculator
How healthy is your weight? Find out now by calculating your body mass index.

Jim Toedtman, swimming saved my life

Swimming and other forms of exercise can greatly reduce your cardiac risk. — Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting

En español | I am a statistic today, one of 1.4 million Americans who will suffer a heart attack this year. More important, I'm one of the million who will survive.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Here's how. I'm an active 70-year-old. On the cardiac risk chart, I'm on the margins. I do not have diabetes or high blood pressure. I am not obese. My cholesterol levels are under control. My genes do pose a problem: My dad died of a heart attack and brittle arteries at 66. To counter that, I've been swimming three or four times a week for more than 25 years.

With extra training, I was ready for a one-mile race in the Chesapeake Bay. It was relatively uneventful, though I swam faster than usual and my sense of direction was oddly askew — I spent more time heading for the Azores than Annapolis! An hour later, after collecting a third-place trophy and changing clothes, I became light-headed and felt a heavy pressure on my chest. My wife was right: It was more serious than I thought, and I needed help. There began an odyssey through the public health system, and at every stop — the EMS tech, the ER orderly, the ER docs and nurse-practitioner, the nurses and cardiac specialists — their verdict was unanimous. Swimming had saved my life.

From past AARP Bulletin articles, I know the importance of speedy attention and recognized the coordinated care I was getting. The ambulance was equipped with an electrocardiogram machine that transmitted a dozen tracks of my heart rhythm directly to the Anne Arundel Medical Center's emergency room.

Next: The ER greeting was harsh: "You've had a heart attack." »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Video Extra

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams at private practitioners nationwide.

membership schwanns discount

Members get double Schwan's rewards on all online orders from Schwan's Home Service™.

Membership Discount Benefit Pet Plan Dog

Members save 10% or more on Petplan pet insurance premiums.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. 

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points