It should have been a dream come true, a moment of unparalleled celebration. Steve Smith of Hertfordshire, England had won the lottery, receiving a jackpot of 19 million pounds ($38 million). The 58 year old doorman and former bingo caller could suddenly afford to do everything he had ever dreamed. He and his wife could buy whatever they pleased, help finance their grandchildren’s education and spend their golden years rolling in gold. There was and is only one problem, and it is on Steve’s aorta.
Three years ago, Steve was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. The small bulge on his aorta, the blood vessel that delivers blood to the body, could rupture at any time, causing internal bleeding and leading to death. Surgery would be an option, but the aneurysm isn’t large enough to operate on. He is essentially a ticking time bomb, poised to detonate. So what good are the riches?
They aren’t. Even he has said that he would give them all back for more time with his wife, two children and grandchildren.
Steve’s story is a bittersweet one. He has a condition that kills nearly 15,000 Americans every year and can do nothing about it, despite all the money at his fingertips. Don’t allow your life to mirror his. Do what you can now to prevent the development of aortic aneurysms. Stop smoking, monitor your blood pressure and reduce your intake of dietary fat and cholesterol. In short, care for your heart, so that it can care for the rest of your body. And when you finally pick the winning lottery numbers, you won’t have to worry that you won’t make it to the bank.