Like nearly everyone else, I was surprised to hear that Davy Jones died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 66.
My mind instantly returned to childhood days happily watching reruns of The Monkees and the occasional Marsha-Brady-has-a-crush-on-Davy-Jones episode that was recreated in the Brady Bunch movie 25 years later. I hadn't paid much attention to anything he'd done in recent years, but I still was sad to hear of him dying so young.
As I read the developing news accounts, I waited for the details to come in. The first report I read said he had complained of chest pains the night before and went to the hospital the following morning. Most others said that he had experienced trouble breathing that morning, an ambulance was called, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A few brief lines were devoted - summarily - to what killed him, then the obituary was launched.
Admittedly, I'm a little more attuned to the severity of heart attacks than your average news reader. Or maybe not, as the case may be.
In 2012, we're still not surprised when someone in their sixties is felled by a heart attack. We accept it as something that is expected to happen. Nothing to be learned here, let's move right on to the nostalgia and mourn our collective loss.
Across America (and possibly a large part of the world) adults of a certain age are remembering whatever joy Davy brought to them with his performances. By all accounts, he appeared to be a great guy who will be missed.
But Davy wasn't the only one that was lost and will be missed. 1,099 other Americans died from a heart attack yesterday. 1,100 more will die today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that...
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease claims over 400,000 Americans each year - one in every six deaths. Nearly 800,000 of us will suffer a heart attack this year. Nearly 500,000 will suffer a recurrent attack with nearly 200,000 suffering silent attacks. Heart disease is the number one killer, bar none.
It is also preventable.
Just like stroke, diabetes, and obesity - metabolic syndrome as it is now being called - each can be treated or even prevented with lifestyle changes. Proper diet. Moderate exercise. Lowered stress.
Periodic screening will let each of us know our individual risk factors. Lipid profiles will tell us of dangerous levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. C-Reactive protein screenings, stress tests, and angiograms can alert us to plaque buildup. Angioplasties and stents can clear artery blockages. If we arrive at the emergency room at the onset of symptoms, we have a very good chance of surviving.
But we have to recognize the warning signs.
I know nothing of what happened to Davy Jones. That information may never be released or reported on. Like me, he may have experienced classic symptoms that he dismissed or it may have hit him suddenly. He may have had time to seek treatment or he may not have. It certainly sounds like the people around him did all that they could to help save his life.
Ultimately, we're each responsible for our own health. What we put into our bodies, how we respond to warning signs, and when we seek treatment is pretty much within our own control. Unfortunately, we're not the only ones that suffer the consequences for our own actions. It's the people that we leave behind that experience our loss, as the Davy Jones story clearly demonstrates.
It was very ironic that this year's heart month had an extra day in it and on that day we were all reminded that heart disease touches each of our lives.
So while we each remember Davy in our own way, let's also remember the other 1,099 individuals who left behind husbands, wives, partners, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, admirers, and fans.
Let's honor their memories by vowing not to put our own loved ones through this misery.
If you found this post helpful, share it on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter by clicking the boxes below the article title.
If you like this blog, fan it on Facebook and follow me on Twitter by clicking the boxes below my bio.
Keep riding and be safe!