DEAR HARRIETTE: A guy I grew up with just had a massive heart attack. He lived to talk about it, but it is scary. We are all in our late 50s, and while we have some aches and pains, I think most of us consider ourselves pretty healthy. I know I don't necessarily take the precautions that I have been given over the years too seriously, and this was a big wakeup call. My friend almost died. What can my friends and I do to avoid this kind of crisis? -- Afraid to Die
DEAR AFRAID TO DIE: The sad truth is that many of us think we will live forever and often don't take into account how the choices of what we ingest and how we move our bodies will affect our health and longevity. By the time you reach your 50s, your patterns are pretty well-ingrained. But doctors do say that it's never too late to make smarter choices.
What everyone should do is get a complete physical to check the status of your body and its functioning. If you have established a baseline with your doctor, you should compare where you are now and where you have been so that your doctor can help you determine what you need to do to make healthier choices. You absolutely have to be honest with your doctor. Admit what you eat and drink and how much you exercise.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a die-hard coffee drinker. When I was young, I drank like five or six cups a day. I had to cut back a few years ago because I noticed that my heart raced if I drank too much coffee. Now I feel like my tolerance is even lower. I love to drink it, but it doesn't love me back. My doctor told me to cut back because he says it's not good for my blood pressure. I can't seem to stop, though. I feel like an idiot for being so attached to coffee, but I really enjoy it. Do you have any ideas on how to let go? -- Ending the Coffee Affair
DEAR ENDING THE COFFEE AFFAIR: According to the American Heart Association, many studies have been conducted to determine if coffee causes disease in the body. So far, the findings have been inclusive.
Neither the AHA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend drinking high amounts of coffee, though, because it can have negative side effects. Among the side effects are rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and anxiety. Like most things, enjoying coffee in moderation is ideal. You can also go to decaffeinated coffee if your system is now too sensitive for caffeine. For more details on the side effects of too much coffee, go to: healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-side-effects.