Leave the greatest legacy to your children

Phyllis was dumbfounded when she learned of her heart scan score of 995. At age 56, this placed her solidly in the 99th percentile--a score that grouped her with the worst 1% of scores for women her age. Track Your Plaque followers know that scores of 1000 (just days away, given the expected 30% increase in score per year!) pose a risk of heart attack, symptoms leading to stent or bypass, or death of 25% per year.

But after Phyllis gathered her thoughts and thought it over, her first question was "What about my children?"

A natural response for a mother. Phyllis' "children" actually ranged in age from 26 to 37. We talked about how, given her high score, she'd probably been creating plaque in her coronary arteries for 20 years. This triggered her mother's concern for her kids.

This is probably the #1 most useful lesson for all of us. If we learn of our own risk for heart disease, we can pass our concerns on to our children. Imagine how much more well-equipped you could be if you started out with the advice and experience of a parent who'd identified and then conquered their heart disease risk.

Pass your awareness and knowledge on to your children, particularly if they are 30 years old or more.

Interestingly, my own personal experience with my 14-year old son taught me a lesson or two. I had previously assumed that, at age 14, how could he be even remotely interested in these issues? (I have a terrible family history of heart disease and I have a high heart scan score myself.) When my son asked that we check his lipid values (I talk about this more than I'd like to admit!), we did a fingerstick lipid panel in my office. Lo and behold, his HDL (good) cholesterol was a shocking 31 mg--exceptionally low for a teenager. His risk for heart disease over the long-term is very high.

Much to my surprise, this awareness has triggered a genuine interest in healthy eating. It's not uncommon to see him examine food labels and to report to me that "Hey, Dad. Can you believe that this yogurt has 43 grams of carbohydrates?"

Pass on the lessons you've learned to your children and to the important people in your life. This is probably the most crucial lesson you can take from the Track Your Plaque experience.