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Star Jones has reason to be excited about life these days. Not only is the TV personality working on a new multi-host talk show that she’s already shot the pilot for, she’s in the best heart health of her life. For Jones, though, that came after a lot of struggle.
“I’m in the best heart health I could ever have imagined given what I’ve been through in the last ten years and I want to encourage your listeners to get to the same state,” Jones told the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Jones is a National Volunteer for the American Heart Association, a role she says she embraces with enthusiasm.
Three years ago, Jones was diagnosed with heart disease and had open-heart surgery – the kind where your chest is cracked open and removed from your body. Jones says she never knew that she was at risk for heart disease, particularly after surviving cancer as a young woman and maintaining her weight loss after gastric bypass surgery. She thought, as many do, that heart disease was a risk factor for old white guys.
“I had all the facts, but because I had been obese for so long, I had some of the genetic disorders for heart disease and I had not really done the things that were necessary in terms of the lifestyle I was a huge candidate for heart disease. If you are lethargic, if you have heart palpitations you can’t explain, if you have shortness of breath, if you get winded very easily or you get lightheaded from sitting to standing very quickly those could be symptoms of heart disease and we want to make sure that people go in and check and get an echocardiogram or an EKG done so you can make sure your heart is in optimal health.”
What helped Jones get to heart health – she says her cardiologist considers her among the 1% of Americans who are in superior heart health – is following a new lifestyle plan that includes eating right and exercise. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week to keep your heart in shape. Jones did her part by changing what she ate and exercising.
“Once a week I got to a tennis clinic where I get beat down because I’m not good at it. I do tennis, I do Pilates and I do Soul Cycle spinning. I exercise 5 days a week. I had lost all the weight. I had gotten down to 145 pounds from 307. It wasn’t all the weight. But our constant lifestyle can also be something that diminishes our heart health. Did you know that 80% of heart disease is avoidable with simple lifestyle changes? If we take out some of the salt in our diet, if we reduce our caloric intake, if we get just a little bit of exercise, that would reduce the incidence of heart disease., especially in the African-American community.”