February is Heart Health Month!

Monday, 18 February 2008
Posted by Neugier

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This month is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention. Educate yourself on the dangers of heart disease and get on track to better heart health here!

How The Heart Works

The heart is a fist-sized organ whose purpose is to pump life-sustaining blood throughout your body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your organs, muscles, bones, and other tissues. Blood also transports waste to be removed from your body. Did you know that the average heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood a day?!

Top Ten Ways to Help Children Develop Healthy Habits

1.Be a positive role model. If you’re practicing healthy habits, it’s a lot easier to convince children to do the same.
2. Get the whole family active. Plan times for everyone to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
3. Limit TV, video game and computer time. These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease.
4. Encourage physical activities that children really enjoy. Every child is unique. Let children experiment with different activities until each finds something that he or she really loves doing. They’ll stick with it longer if they love it.
5. Be supportive. Focus on the positive instead of the negative. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a good self-image.
6. Set specific goals and limits, such as one hour of physical activity a day or two desserts per week other than fruit. When goals are too abstract or limits too restrictive, the chance for success decreases.
7. Don’t reward children with food. Candy and snacks as a reward encourage bad habits. Find other ways to celebrate good behavior.
8.Make dinnertime a family time. When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Get the kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
9. Make a game of reading food labels. The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat. It’s a habit that helps change behavior for a lifetime.
10. Stay involved. Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. Contact public officials on matters of the heart. Make your voice heard.

When Things Go Wrong: 8 Major Heartbreakers
Illustrated by Echo Medical Media

Your heart pumps billions of gallons of blood during your lifetime. But like any hardworking machine, sometimes our hearts need a check up.

Top 10 Antioxidant Foods
By Doug Donaldson

Blueberries may have been the unofficial antioxidant champion, but a recent study dethroned them in favor of the humble, small red bean.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found other surprises, including that russet potatoes, pecans, and cinnamon are high in antioxidants.

“The bottom line is the same: Eat more fruits and veggies,” says Ronald Prior, Ph.D., with USDA’s Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock.

1. Small Red Beans
2. Wild Blueberries
3. Red Kidney Beans
4. Pinto Beans
5. Blueberries
6. Cranberries
7. Artichokes
8. Blackberries
9. Prunes
10. Raspberries


PREPARATION TIME: Depends on you

1 ounce of prevention
1 or more motivated individuals
-lbs of healthy weight (remove large amounts of fat)
-well balanced nutrition
4-6 servings of exercise/week
-blood pressure management
-less than 200mg cholesterol/day
-controlled blood sugar (glucose), if diabetic
-a pinch of stress management
-moderate alcohol consumption (0 optional)
-0 tobacco (for best results)


1. Motivated to prevent heart disease? To prepare for a healthy heart, check with your Primary Care Manager (PCM). Your PCM can determine if you have risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors include: family history of heart disease, age (men>45, women>55), tobacco use, overweight/obese, inactive, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol. Some risk factors such as family history cannot be changed, but many others such as tobacco use, overweight/obese and high cholesterol can.

2. Your PCM can help you set goals for reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Your PCM may refer you to see a dietician or attend a nutrition class. General recommendations for nutrition based on the Food Guide Pyramid include: 6-11servings of starch (whole grain bread, rice, cereal, potatoes), 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, 2-3 servings of low fat dairy and 2-3 servings of protein (meat, eggs, nuts, beans).

3. Nutrition and exercise are a must when trying to maintain a healthy weight and reduce heart disease risk factors. Exercise 4-6 days a week for at least 30 minutes. Even 10 minutes three times a day has proven to help. Remember to start where you are! Walking is generally an exercise most people can do; it costs nothing and can be done anywhere. It's also important to do exercise that you enjoy!

4. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), or diabetes (high blood sugar) your PCM may also prescribe medication in conjunction with a nutrition and exercise regimen. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure greater than 140/90. Cholesterol can often be lowered by a low fat/low cholesterol diet: 30-35% of total daily calories from fat (less than 7% from saturated fat) and less than 200mg cholesterol daily.

5. Stress, anger and pessimism have been noted to have a relationship with heart disease. Healthy ways to reduce stress include: exercise, supportive relationships, adequate sleep, relaxation techniques (i.e., deep breathing) and regular, well-balanced meals.

6. Finally, for best "recipe" results limit alcohol intake to 1 drink a day and don't use tobacco, which constricts and damages blood vessels.

by By Christian Millman

Did you know regular smooching can stave off stress and beat the blues!

A set of willing lips can go a long way toward keeping you stress-free and happy. In fact, couples who kiss often are eight times less likely to feel stressed or depressed, according to a kiss-and-tell survey of 3,300 people conducted for the Berman Center, a Chicago clinic that specializes in menopause treatments and women’s sexual issues.

The type of kissing that seems to be most therapeutic is the kind done for its own sake, not as a prelude to something else. “And it’s not just a peck on the cheek we’re talking about,” says Laura Berman, president and director of the center. “It’s more about spending some time canoodling. If you’re doing it right, you’ll elicit squeals and groans from your kids.”

Are your lips more tuckered than puckered these days? If so, here’s a good way to get started: Each time you or your spouse leaves the house, bid each other farewell with a 10-second kiss. “If you’re like most couples, you’ll see that 10 seconds seems like a really long time at first,” Berman says. But stick with it. After all, your health is at stake.