Monday, December 21, 2009

Death at any age

I was all set to study and write about telomeres tonight. I am intrigued by the hypothesis that telomeres length is associated with longevity. The study relating younger looks to longer telomeres really got my attention! I am ALL about the looking young and living longer.

But instead I feel compelled to say something about Brittney Murphy. I wasn't very familiar with the young actress. I had heard of the two movies that she had major roles in, but not about the concern for her weight. I really didn't have her on my radar before her death. She is now the topic of Internet and Cable News - so she has my attention. Oh, and one of my friends and or relatives made a note of it on Facebook last night to which she got the comment, "cocaine diet and unnaturally thin."

All the talk has led me to recall one of my favorite quotes, which I have written down at my office. Do forgive me for any inaccuracy but it goes something like this - "Death in old age is inevitable, death before old age is not."

No matter what they find, a heart attack at 32 is not inevitable or natural. I suppose the closest to "natural" would be if she had a genetic or physical abnormality that no one noticed before which caused her heart to stop. This happens in athletes sometimes - heart attacks at finish lines, not because of a disease process but from a defect.

I have to tell you, even as I am blogging, the TV is on in the background and they are talking about this again.

It is likely then, that Ms. Murphy either had a defect, was exposed to an environmental risk factor or engaged in behavior that put her at risk. Yes, this could be drug abuse - illicit or prescription or an eating disorder. I have no idea, but I know this, she was too young to die.

Seems the older I get , the younger too young to die becomes. Heart attacks do scare me. After my Dad died at a much older age than Brittney, I had some trouble sleeping. I told my PCP that I was afraid that I would die in my sleep, that my heart would stop. I know that heart disease runs in my family. My doctor insists that I have none of the risk factors, but maybe Brittney didn't have any either.

All we can do is take the best care of ourselves that is possible. We have no guarantee really, but death before old age IS preventable and eating the right amounts of the right foods while engaging in the recommended amount of physical activity and avoiding environmental stressors and toxins is the way to stack to the deck in your favor. Generally I do not feel lucky, so I will cheat by taking extra good care of myself.

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