August 18th, 2017
The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. Every single day, the average heart beats 100,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood. In an average lifetime, that’s 2.5 billion beats! You know that keeping your weight down, exercise, and a good diet can keep your heart healthy. But what else can you do to keep your ticker pumping? Here are five simple things to do every day that will keep your hard-working heart strong!
1. Eat healthy fats. We need fats in our diet, including polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats, and a limited amount of saturated fats. One fat we do not need is trans-fat. Trans-fat clogs your arteries by raising the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering the good cholesterol levels (HDL), which can increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. By cutting trans-fats from your diet, you improve the blood flow throughout your body. So, what are trans-fats? They are industry-produced fats often used to add flavor and texture to packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine, and fried fast foods. Read the labels on all foods. Trans-fat appears on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils.
* Stick to a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and limit sugars, sodium, processed and red meats, and make it a point to avoid eating foods with trans-fat.
2. Practice good dental hygiene, and floss your teeth daily. Your dental health is a good indication of your overall health. Many researchers have concluded there is a link between periodontal (gum) disease and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Though not conclusive, studies suggest that the bacteria from gum disease in your bloodstream can trigger inflammation throughout the body (systemic inflammation). This inflammation may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
* Floss and brush your teeth daily to prevent a build-up of bacteria-laden plaque, which can lead to gum disease. It’s more than cavities you may have to deal with if you are fighting gum disease.
3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.
* Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you or your partner snores and wakes up feeling tired, talk with your doctor. You may have sleep apnea, and you should be treated, as this condition is linked to heart disease and arrhythmias.
4. Keep moving – don’t sit for too long at one time. In recent years, research has suggested that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health no matter how much exercise you get. This is bad news for the many people who sit at sedentary jobs all day. When looking at the combined results of several observational studies that included nearly 800,000 people, researchers found that in those who sat the most, there was an associated 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 percent increase in deaths from those cardiovascular events. In addition, sitting for long periods of time, especially when traveling, can increase your risk of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis).
* It’s important to move throughout the day. Park farther away from the office, take a few shorter walks throughout the day, stand while talking on the phone. Break the TV habit in favor of exercise, or, if you have room, exercise in front of the TV. And remember to exercise regularly, 30 minutes a day, seven days a week.
5. Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is as bad for the heart and arteries as it is for the lungs. Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease and many other life–threatening disorders and diseases. If you smoke, stop. Studies have shown that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.
* Secondhand smoke is toxic. Be firm with smokers and let them know that you do not want to breathe their smoke, and keep children away from secondhand smoke.
You can dramatically reduce your chances of heart disease or a heart attack by following healthy lifestyle habits. Pay attention to good habits early in life and incorporate these habits into your lifestyle and your heart health will be the best it can be for you.
The Cleveland Clinic:
Harvard Health Publications:
August 4th, 2017
A bathroom scale measures how much there is of you on the planet – not how healthy you are. Research shows that a regular exercise regime may not result in weight loss, but it can drastically reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Click here to learn more.
July 23rd, 2017
Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than age 65.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a type of heart failure that occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should to meet the needs of your body. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, will gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently. When the heart cannot pump and circulate blood normally, the kidneys receive less blood and are unable to filter fluids out of the circulatory system and into the urine. The extra fluid in the circulatory system builds up in the lungs, the liver, around the eyes, and in the arms, legs, ankles and feet. Congestive Heart Failure is the term used to describe the condition when the body becomes congested with the buildup of fluids.
Click here to learn more on Congestive Heart Failure, its symptoms and treatments.
July 7th, 2017
Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. Sodium controls the amount of water in your body and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Too much sodium, or salt, can increase blood pressure levels. When you have a high sodium diet, the extra sodium builds up in your bloodstream and attracts water, which causes the total volume of blood inside your blood vessels to increase. With more blood flowing, blood pressure increases and over time, the walls of the blood vessels become stronger and thicker, making the space inside the vessels narrower. The heart then has to work harder to pump blood through the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, increases the risk for heart attack and stroke, and is a leading cause of kidney failure. High blood pressure is also linked to osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches, and the extra water leads to bloating and weight gain.
The amount of sodium you eat directly affects your blood pressure and the health of your heart. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that the average adult consume a maximum of 2,300 mgs (milligrams) of sodium a day. That’s the amount in just one teaspoon of table salt. For children and for people who are middle-aged, elderly, or African-American, or who have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg of sodium a day. However, most Americans consume much more sodium than they should. The average American consumes about 3,400 mgs of sodium per day!
The most common form of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride – NaCl). However, only 10% of the sodium Americans consume comes from table salt. Most of the sodium we’re eating is added to our food before we buy it. Approximately 75% of sodium in the American diet is from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods. Sodium is used to cure meats, mask off-flavors, retain moisture, and to enhance flavors. In addition to table salt, other sources of sodium in the American diet include MSG (monosodium glutamate), sodium citrate, sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate, baking powder, and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Be aware of foods that are high in sodium, even if they don’t taste salty. Hidden sources of sodium in the American diet include:
Eat less salt to lower your blood pressure. Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to eating food with much lower quantities of salt, but once it’s done, it’s actually difficult to eat foods like potato chips because they taste way too salty. Follow these guidelines to reduce your sodium intake:
High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other health problems. By reducing your sodium intake you can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sodium_dietary_guidelines.pdf
Harvard Health Publications: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sodium-studies-blur-picture-heart-healthy-201408157366
National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/news/ekidney/june10/Salt_june10
June 23rd, 2017
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in adults. Cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. The lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes and a person could die within 8 to 10 minutes. According to the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest at home, at work or in a public location die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene.
CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a lifesaving technique that is used when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
In emergency situations, such as in cardiac arrest or drowning, the American Heart Association recommends that everyone, untrained bystanders and medical personnel alike, begin with HANDS-ONLY CPR (chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breaths). Even if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete, it’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all. 75% of all cardiac arrests happen in people’s homes and the difference between doing something and doing nothing could be your loved one’s life. CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.
HANDS-ONLY CPR consists of two easy steps and is recommended for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting, such as at home, at work or in a public location:
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that any attempt to provide CPR to a victim is better than no attempt to provide help. Don’t be afraid to act in an emergency:
LEARN HOW TO SAVE A LIFE:
Watch a 90-second Hands-Only CPR video. Hands-Only CPR is a natural introduction to CPR, and the AHA encourages everyone to learn conventional CPR as a next step. To watch the Hands-Only CPR instructional video visit: http://bit.ly/1OZ8SAY For video in Spanish visit: http://bit.ly/2r79ksg
Watch a 22 minute video for more in depth CPR training: The AHA’s 22-minute CPR Anytime™ program ( http://bit.ly/1UFSt6n ) is a very short CPR training program that you can do at home. The video provides skills training and practice that can prepare you to perform high quality chest compressions.
Take a CPR class: Take an accredited first-aid training course, which includes CPR, rescue breaths, and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). CPR is a psychomotor skill. People who have had CPR training are more likely to give high-quality chest compressions and are more confident about their skills than those who have not been trained (or have not trained in the last 5 years). You can find a CPR class near you at: http://bit.ly/1fhNSS0
Learn CPR – you can save a life!
June 9th, 2017
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. In sleep apnea your breathing passages becomes blocked, or the muscles that control your breathing stop moving. Either way, breathing stops, and then resumes with a gasp. In the worst cases, this can happen hundreds of times every night. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen. And if left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, as doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits and there isn’t a blood test that can diagnose the condition. Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it, because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea. Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The most common type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In this condition, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing shallow breathing or breathing pauses. Oxygen levels drop when breathing slows and the body responds by releasing epinephrine (also called adrenaline), a stress hormone. When this happens over and over, adrenaline levels remain high, leading to high blood pressure. “Over time, OSA exposes the heart and circulation to harmful stimuli that may cause or contribute to the progression of most cardiovascular diseases,” explains Dr. Atul Malhotra, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and sleep specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. OSA affects an estimated 15 million adult Americans and is present in a large proportion of people who have hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a less common type of sleep apnea. This disorder occurs when the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn’t send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. CSA can be caused by a number of conditions that affect the ability of your brain-stem, the area that links your brain to your spinal cord and controls many functions such as heart rate and breathing, to control your breathing.
Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Treatment: Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
Lifestyle Changes: If you have mild sleep apnea, some changes in daily activities or habits might be all the treatment you need.
Mouthpieces: A mouthpiece, sometimes called an oral appliance, may help some people who have mild sleep apnea. A dentist or orthodontist can make a custom-fit plastic mouthpiece for treating sleep apnea. The mouthpiece will help keep your airways open while you sleep.
Breathing Devices: A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat. The pressure from the air helps keep your airway open while you sleep.
Surgery: Some people who have sleep apnea might benefit from surgery. Surgery is done to widen breathing passages by shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the lower jaw.
If you, or a loved one, is having trouble breathing at night, see a doctor. Life style changes can help a person with mild sleep apnea, and in more severe cases, there are treatments that can keep the breathing passages open and normalize oxygen levels.