Monthly Archives: March 2014

2 months. . . .and 1700 “hits” . . . Thanks!

IMG_8348rt5x7bwBW ARA labcoatLooking back at the first 2 months of our site, we have been so surprised and encouraged by the interest in heart prevention and wellness. We have had nearly 1,700 page views and over 170 followers. So thanks for your support, and for continuing to promote cardiovascular wellness!

Here are some posts from the past 2 months you may have missed:

Here are 10 tips for women to improve their heart health

Calculate your “Heart Age” . . . and learn what it means

An overview of exercise and it’s role in heart prevention. . and preventing dementia too.

10 tips for heart healthy eating. . . and disease prevention and Nutrition Counts!

Understand what the new cholesterol guidelines mean for you and your loved ones with high cholesterol

Is Fish Oil useful? Here is a link to our current views. . .  and an overview of other supplements as well.

Online resources about high blood pressure

As always, we appreciate your suggestions for topics. . Thanks again for your support!


Heart Healthy at Home/Work #HealthiestEmployers

BW ARA labcoatAre employers interested in their employees heart health?  You bet, based on the response to my workshop With all Your Heart, Heart Healthy Habits at Work & Home at the Makoy Center in Hilliard.  The workshop was part of the events at Columbus Business First’s inaugural Healthiest Employers program.  The inaugural gathering for employers today included an awards presentation, mini-workshops and a wellness expo.

With my workshop presentation I wanted to show attendees the benefit of heart healthy behaviors, as well as how to impact cardiac arrest and stroke.

Keeping physically active can be social or integrated throughout the day – bottom line is avoid prolonged sitting.  The talk covered heart healthy eating behaviors and energy balance.  I discussed risk factors for heart disease and the American Heart Association’s Simple 7  for further information about heart health.  The audience questions showed our shared interest in heart health and what interventions have been shown to improve it.  One question in particular concerned transcendental meditation.  Transcendental Meditation has been shown to be beneficial; the talk today did not allow time to discuss further – if interested, watch Dr. Steinbaum’s short video for an overview of TM.

Heart healthy interventions through lifestyle play a role in long term life quality.  I also introduced / reviewed life saving Hands Only CPR to help someone suffering a cardiac arrest, and how to stop a Stroke FAST.

Work-life and staying healthy are inseparable.  Better performance and delivery are the result of a heart healthy work force; it was great to share heart healthy information this morning.

ucm_111393spot a stroke FAST.



Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIt is commonly accepted that regular physical activity, such as running, can improve your overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. But can more extreme exercise, such as marathon running, actually increase our risk of heart problems, perhaps by ‘straining’ or ‘overtraining’ our heart and circulation (fortunately, the actual risk of a cardiac event during extreme exertion such as a marathon is very low)?   Recently, researchers in Hartford reported on a very interesting study- they recruited Boston Marathon participants to undergo a vascular ultrasound and physical prior to the marathon, in order to compare the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries to average non-runners. But what was most interesting was that they also recruited the runner’s spouses for the same checkup – and noted if they were runners or non-runners. Their theory was that the spouses would have the same “heart healthy” lifestyle as their running mates, minus the endurance training.

RunningSo what did they find? This article from the New York Times has the details (and this link is to the original research article) . . . .essentially they showed that the runners were indeed  healthy overall, with generally better body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol than non-runners. . . but many still had significant plaque buildup in their hearts, especially if they were older or had ongoing risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  So running did not cancel out the effects of other risk factors, but did not increase heart risk either. What can we conclude from this research? Running, or other high level fitness, improves health and reduces risk – but does not excuse us from monitoring our blood pressure, our weight, our diet, or our cholesterol levels.

The most intriguing conclusion? It turns out the spouses of the runners, even if not runners themselves, had better than expected risk profiles and plaque buildup, probably from the same heart healthy lifestyle that most runners employ. The article quotes the lead researcher as saying:  If you want improved heart health but can’t be a runner, marry one!   Hopefully my wife finds that advice reassuring!

Here is more information of the benefits of exercise on the heart and the benefits of exercise on delaying dementia.

Nutrition Counts

BW ARA labcoatAnyone who is interested in heart and circulatory health, whether or not you have a direct diagnosis or medical reason to pay particular attention, will benefit from learning about nutrition.  March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to learn more – from an appointment with a registered dietician to review your own specific nutrition goals, or from browsing articles/ resources. Here are some options to check out –

A healthy diet and good nutrition play an integral role in heart and circulatory wellness.  The American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart website Eat Better has a lot of information on eating habits, family eating, reading labels, goals for diet (see managing hypertension).  The American Heart Association Nutrition Center covers topics such as sodium’s impact on cardiovascular health and how we eat it (The Salty Six:  Bread & rolls, Cold Cuts/meats, Pizza, Poultry, Soup, Sandwiches).  Who thought Bread & Rolls and not Pizza were #1 for the most sodium we eat?

Being heart healthy includes maintaining a healthy weight; not always straightforward because of how work, life, & daily schedules interact with our available food which often comes high calorie, in large portions.  Counting calories plays a role in considering weight and fitness.  Dr. Sherry Pagato, a psychologist, writes about weight in her article, Do I Really Need to Count Calories to Lose Weight? She relates tracking calories to tracking spending (money) and gives a great example of the anxiety that can make both a challenge (here it is a conversation with a friend having financial difficulty).   Attention to detail pays off for both finances and nutrition.

Counting vegetables to be sure you are eating the recommended servings will payoff with heart and circulatory health.  Fruits and Vegetables, Are You Getting Enough? gives great examples for knowing portions, and ways to supplement the diet with more fruits/veggies.  Examples include building a meal around a vegetable as main focus (rather than meat), adding berries to salads, even adding leafy greens to smoothies.  Bottom line, counting servings of fruits & veg gives an objective assessment of your diet, much like tracking pedometer steps/activity.

Choose real food, try to eat local, keep it simple; track what you eat, and learn as much as you can about recommendations for healthy eating.  Take your own dietary inventory for Nutrition Month; do you eat ice cream? Butter? Sweets?  How many vegetables?  Are you eating out?  Are you at your goal weight?  What healthy additions can you make?

The impact of what we eat – from cholesterol and trans fats, to sugar – on heart health is significant. Cholesterol, trans fats, and sugar contribute to atherosclerosis/hardening of the arteries as well as lead to obesity which further compromises heart and circulatory wellness.

We can choose to eat for heart and circulatory health.  For those in central Ohio, check out the McConnell Heart Health Center’s Nutrition Month seminar 10 Ways to Improve Your Diet Now on March 18th.

Some Useful Online Resources about High Blood Pressure

IMG_8348rt5x7bwGiven that 1 in 3 Americans suffers from high blood pressure (hypertension), there is a good chance you or a family member is dealing with this condition, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. While many patients have to resort to medications, changes in diet and regular exercise can go a long way to controlling, or improving, high blood pressure.  Here are some online resources to help you or your family members help control high blood pressure:

(NOTE: only your doctor or care provider can give you specific advice about managing your high blood pressure)

High Blood Pressure Online Guide from ACC This link is a thorough, easy to understand overview which covers the causes, correct measurement, treatments, and consequences of hypertension. It is one of the most thorough guides available, and is unbiased and full of excellent advice.

New Guidelines (see article here) were released recently that cover the treatment of hypertension. One of the main new recommendations is that for patients older than 60, a target of systolic blood pressure (the high number) less than 150 is adequate, rather than 140. Recent research has shown that older patients who take blood pressure medication are at higher risk of falls, possibly from excess lowering of blood pressure.

One of the best ways to manage your high blood pressure is to monitor your reading at home – and this video demonstrates the proper way to take your blood pressure at home. Also of note, new research just announced this week shows that it is important to check your blood pressure in both arms, because a difference in readings could indicate circulatory disease (and mask the true reading – but note that in some people a difference can be normal).

The optimal diet for patients who suffer from hypertension is called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension). The guide above has an excellent overview of the DASH diet, including this chart:Image

Remember, high blood pressure is a chronic condition, so take a long term approach to controlling it – the goal is preventing complications, not  ‘achieving’  a number!