Wellness Wednesday: PVD, PAD, VTE, DVT and PE Can Spell Trouble

And ABC, 123, Do-Re-Mi, right? That’s a lot of shorthand … but this isn’t just silly text speak. Each of these acronyms represents a very serious cardiovascular-related condition that requires medical attention and treatment.

veinsPVD = Peripheral Vascular Disease
PAD = Peripheral Artery Disease
VTE = Venous Thromboembolism
DVT = Deep Vein Thrombosis
PE = Pulmonary Embolism

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a circulation disorder that causes blood vessels outside of the heart and brain to narrow or block. This can happen in either the arteries or veins and is most common in the legs but can also be present in the arms, stomach or kidneys.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is specifically, a narrowing of the arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head—again, most common in the legs. Like coronary artery disease, the most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque inside the artery wall. Plaque reduces the amount of blood flow to the limbs and decreases the oxygen and nutrients available to the tissue. Clots may form on the artery walls, further decreasing the inner size of the vessel and potentially blocking off major arteries.

The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again. Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation. And if the blockage occurs in a carotid artery, it can cause a stroke.

Risk Factors for PAD

Luckily, PAD is easily diagnosed by non-invasive methods … but you have to get checked out! Many people dismiss leg pain as a normal sign of aging. You may think it’s arthritis or just “stiffness” from getting older. If you’re having any kind of recurring pain, talk to your healthcare professional and describe the pain as accurately as you can. If you have risk factors for PAD, you should ask your doctor about PAD even if you aren’t having symptoms.

Venous Thromboembolism, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism(2).
Click to view larger

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in your lungs. The clot often forms in the deep veins of the lower legs or thighs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream, it’s called a venous thromboembolism (VTE) and may represent a life-threatening condition. A PE is usually a VTE that travels from the leg to the lungs. PE is a very serious condition which can cause death.

People who have just had surgery, those who are sedentary and/or obese are at a higher risk of developing a DVT. Don’t delay treatment if you have any symptoms or risk factors for DVT.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms or risk factors. There are non-invasive treatments available to help dissolve clots before they break off and become life-threatening.

To find a Mercy Health cardiovascular physician, visit our Find-a-Doctor tool on our website at www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-physician.

Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic


More Information:

An Important Reason to Take Your Socks Off [PDF]

What is PAD? [PDF]

Prevention and Treatment of PAD

What is VTE? [PDF]

Who is at Risk for VTE? [PDF]

Risk in the Veins

Know Thrombosis [Infographic]

Wellness Wednesday: Getting back to your life with cardiac rehab

Cardiac rehabilitation can’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future.

istock_000062785180_mediumCardiac rehab is a medically supervised program for people who have had a heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery, or other coronary intervention.

A cardiac rehab program involves adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to address risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is a team effort—partnering you with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, family members and friends—to take charge of the choices, lifestyle and habits that affect your heart.

To help you adopt lifestyle changes, a cardiac rehab program will include exercise training, education on heart-healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. It can improve your health and quality of life, reduce the need for medicines to treat heart or chest pain, decrease the chance you will go back to a hospital or emergency room for a heart problem, prevent future heart problems, and even help you live longer.

The American Heart Association explains cardiac rehab as three equally important parts:

  • Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working. You’ll learn how to get your body moving in ways that promote heart health.
  • Education for heart-healthy living: Managing your risk factors, choosing good nutrition, quitting smoking…education about heart-healthy living is a key element of cardiac rehab.
  • Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts your heart. This part of rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.

Active Senior Woman Exercising on TreadmillCardiac rehab is provided in an outpatient clinic or in a hospital rehab center. The cardiac rehab team includes doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and mental health specialists. Sometimes a case manager will help track your care.

Your cardiac rehab team will design a program to meet your needs. Before starting your program, the rehab team will take your medical history, do a physical exam, and perform tests. Possible tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac imaging tests, and a treadmill or stationary bike exercise test. You also may have tests to measure your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. During cardiac rehab, you will learn to exercise safely and increase your physical activity. The length of time that you spend in cardiac rehab depends on your condition.

For more information about the cardiac rehabilitation program at Mercy Health System, visit our website at www.mercyhealth.org/heart/rehab.

Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health


Before you go … Check out Mercy Health System’s 2017 Go Red Dance Video to support American Heart Month!


More Information:

What is Cardiac Rehab? [PDF]

How Can I Live with Heart Failure? [PDF]

Cardiac Rehabilitation (Medline Plus)

Medicine Chart [PDF]

Wellness Wednesday: Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

Just before Christmas, people across the world learned that beloved Star Wars actress and best-selling author Carrie Fisher suffered a cardiac emergency while on a flight home to LA. Within a few days, we were all mourning her death.

istock_000019034549_largeDuring this time, media outlets all over the world were reporting on her condition. Some news stories reported she suffered a heart attack; others reported she suffered a cardiac arrest. And many simply used both of those terms interchangeably.

But is there a difference?

Definitely.

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart becomes partially or completely blocked. This happens because the coronary arteries can become narrowed from a build up of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque. When the plaque breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque and can block the blood flow.

Recovery from a heart attack depends on the length of time the heart muscle is without blood flow, which heart vessel is blocked, and whether or not treatment is immediately started. Emergency care is required for a heart attack. So if you have symptoms, get to an emergency room immediately. And don’t drive! When at all possible, call 911 for an ambulance. Paramedics will have equipment to help treat you on the way to the hospital and can get you there quicker.


Every 34 seconds, someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, America’s No. 1 killer. 


A cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and stops beating or ‘arrests’. Death occurs in minutes after the heart stops because oxygen-enriched blood is no longer flowing through the body. In some instances, immediately performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) can help provide oxygen to the body and get the heart started again.

cardiacarrest-heartattack.jpg

In the instance of Ms. Fisher, witnesses on the airplane have said that she stopped breathing for 10-15 minutes. Passengers, trained in CPR, tried to revive her and when the plane landed, paramedics continued to provide advanced life support on the way to the hospital.

However, the amount of time she was without oxygen proved to be irreversible. A death certificate issued by the LA County Department of Health confirmed that her cause of death was cardiac arrest. What may have contributed to her heart stopping is still being determined.

Carrie Fisher’s death, as well as the death of her mother just a few days later from a stroke, highlights the importance of raising awareness of heart disease in women. While we don’t know if Fisher had any symptoms prior to boarding a plane that day, what we can take from this is that it can happen to anyone. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women and it sometimes has no symptoms, which is why it is called the silent killer.

grfw_aha_liw_v_macy_krSo, during this American Heart Month, we would like to encourage women (and men) to take care of their hearts. Get regular checkups. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy. If you are in a higher risk group, or if you have a family history of heart disease, ask you doctor what you can do to lower that risk.

To find a cardiologist at Mercy Health System, visit our website and use our Find a Doctor tool at www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Mercy Health System Articles:

Heart disease: What every woman needs to know

Heart attacks in women. Yes, they happen

Don’t ignore heart attack symptoms

Q&A: Chest pain. When is it an emergency?


More Information:

Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

Heart Attack Tools and Resources

 

Wellness Wednesday: Resolutions You Can Keep

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Or more importantly, do you keep the New Year’s resolutions you make?

Adult friends exercising in parkHow many of us vow that after the holidays, we will start a diet, lose weight, go to the gym, exercise more? Maybe the momentum continues a few weeks until you get tired or bored or discouraged by the appearance of a lack of results.

Eighty percent of fitness resolutions are abandoned by mid-February. But you don’t have to fall into this trap. You can make small resolutions that are easier to keep and can help you down the path towards a better you.

Be more active to improve overall health. You don’t need to join a gym to get healthier. Park farther away from your office so you have to walk a little more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If there are too many floors or you find it difficult at first, take the elevator halfway, then walk a couple of flights. Or use the elevator to go up but walk down the stairs. Soon, you will probably find it easier. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. That’s roughly 20 minutes a day. You can take a 10 minute walk at lunch time and another 10 minutes of activity in the evening.

istock_000014542236_mediumMake healthier food choices. Grab a healthy snack such as fruit, nuts, or low-fat cheese. Switch out one ‘bad’ treat a day for a good treat. You might start to feel better and have more energy. And if you splurge once in a while, don’t give up. All is not lost.

Be smoke-free. If you are ready to quit, call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live. Mercy Health also provides free smoking cessation programs. Visit the classes and events page on our website for dates and locations.

Get enough sleep. Remember that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Your body heals itself and recuperates during sleep.

Always use seat belts and use child safety seats and booster seats that are appropriate for your child’s age and weight.

Get pets vaccinated and keep pets healthy. Our pets are part of our family. Keeping them healthy helps ensure they will be by your side for a while.

Make an appointment for an annual check-upvaccination or screening.

Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of infection and illness. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Wellness Wednesday: Controlling Diabetes with Healthy Choices

November is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy.

nana_instagram

The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes

In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to live. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children or young adults.

Type 2 diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin very well. You may need to take pills or insulin to help control your diabetes. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Pregnant women sometimes get this type of diabetes. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

Complications of Diabetes

diabetesCardiovascular Disease

Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.

Neuropathy

Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs.

Kidney Disease

The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Blindness and Eye Problems

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Physical activity and diabetes

We know that physical activity and keeping a healthy weight is a good way to keep you heart healthy. But it can also help you take care of your diabetes and prevent diabetes complications. Physical activity helps your blood glucose stay in your target range. Even a 10 or 15 pound weight loss makes a difference in reducing the risk of diabetes problems.

Physical activity also helps the hormone insulin absorb glucose into all your body’s cells, including your muscles, for energy. Muscles use glucose better than fat does. Building and using muscle through physical activity can help prevent high blood glucose. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or if the insulin doesn’t work the way it should, the body’s cells won’t use glucose. This causes your blood glucose levels to get too high, causing diabetes.

What kinds of physical activity can help me?

Senior women exercising in the parkMany kinds of physical activity can help you take care of your diabetes. Even small amounts of physical activity can help. You can measure your physical activity level by how much effort you use.

Doctors suggest that you aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. Children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes who are 10 to 17 years old should aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

Your doctor can tell you more about what kind of physical activity is best for you. He or she can also tell you when and how much you can increase your physical activity level.

Light physical activity

American Diabetes Month

  • You are breathing normally
  • You are not sweating
  • You can talk normally or even sing

Moderate physical activity

  • You are breathing quickly, yet you’re not out of breath
  • You are lightly sweating after about 10 minutes of activity
  • You can talk normally, yet you can’t sing

Vigorous physical activity

  • You are breathing deeply and quickly
  • You are sweating after a few minutes of activity
  • You can’t talk normally without stopping for a breath

Not all physical activity has to take place at the same time. You might take a walk for 20 minutes, lift hand weights for 10 minutes, then walk up and down the stairs for 5 minutes.

DiabetesStats.jpg

How Can You Learn More about Diabetes?

  • Take classes to learn more about living with diabetes. Mercy Health System offers free diabetes classes regularly throughout the year. To find a class, go to the Events page of our website.
  • Join a support group—in-person or online—to get peer support with managing your diabetes. Mercy Health System also offers regular diabetes support groups, which are free and require no registration.
  • Read about diabetes online. Go to National Diabetes Education Program.

Sources: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mayo Clinic.

Wellness Wednesday: Keeping Your Cholesterol in Check

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high.

More than 102 million American Adults have total cholesterol levels above healthy levels (at or above 200 mg/dL). More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease.

What is cholesterol?

SeniorsCholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and in many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy.

Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood and is based on the HDL, LDL and triglycerides numbers.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. Low HDL cholesterol puts you at higher risk for heart disease. People with high blood triglycerides usually also have lower HDL cholesterol. Genetic factors, type 2 diabetes, smoking, being overweight and being sedentary can all result in lower HDL cholesterol.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. However, your LDL number should no longer be the main factor in guiding treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association. For patients taking statins, the guidelines say they no longer need to get LDL cholesterol levels down to a specific target number. A diet high in saturated and trans fats raises LDL cholesterol.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls that increases the risk for heart attack and stroke

How do you know if your cholesterol is high?

cholesterolHigh cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, doctors can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications.

It’s important to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.

Preventive guidelines for cholesterol screening among young adults differ, but experts agree on the need to screen young adults who have other risk factors for coronary heart disease: obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history

Conditions That Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Diabetes mellitus increases the risk for high cholesterol. Your body needs glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps move glucose from the food you eat to your body’s cells. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. So this causes sugars to build up in the blood.

Behaviors That Increase Your Risk for High Cholesterol

Unhealthy Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to high cholesterol and related conditions, such as heart disease.

Physical Inactivity: Not getting enough physical activity can make you gain weight, which can lead to high cholesterol.

Obesity: Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher triglycerides and higher LDL cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol. In addition to high cholesterol, obesity can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.

Family History Can Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Portrait Of Extended Family Group In ParkWhen members of a family pass traits from one generation to another through genes, that process is called heredity.

Genetic factors likely play some role in high cholesterol, heart disease and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high cholesterol share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.

If you have a family history of high cholesterol, you are more likely to have high cholesterol. You may need to get your cholesterol levels checked more often than people who do not have a family history of high cholesterol.

The risk for high cholesterol can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating an unhealthy diet.

Some people have an inherited genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This condition causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age.

If you have high cholesterol, what can you do to lower it?

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your high cholesterol. In addition, you can lower your cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes:

  • Low-fat and high-fiber food (Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains).
  • For adults, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For those aged 6-17, getting 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke or quit if you smoke.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association


More Information:

Know the Facts About High Cholesterol [CDC Fact Sheet]

American Heart Association’s Cholesterol SmartHub

Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Aging

Logos2May is Older Americans Month. People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many older adults live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. Though there are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age, it is important to understand what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns.

As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower, and your heart might become bigger.  Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. To promote heart health:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other activities you enjoy. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and lessen the extent of arterial stiffening.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and sodium. A healthy diet can help you keep your heart and arteries healthy.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases your blood pressure and heart rate. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.
  • Manage stress. Stress can take a toll on your heart. Take steps to reduce stress — or learn to deal with stress in healthy ways.
  • Get enough sleep. Quality sleep plays an important role in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. People’s needs vary, but generally aim for 7 to 8 hours a night.

WalkingCouple

Memory might naturally become less efficient with age. It might take longer to learn new things or remember familiar words or names. To keep your memory sharp:

  • Stay mentally active. Mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape—and might keep memory loss at bay. Do crossword puzzles. Take alternate routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Be social. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together with loved ones, friends and others.
  • Lower your blood pressure. Reducing high blood pressure might reduce vascular disease that might in turn reduce the risk for dementia. More research is needed to determine whether treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of dementia.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine and eat a healthy diet. 

If you’re concerned about memory loss, consult your doctor.

For more information about healthy aging, visit these websites:

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/category/healthyaging.html
https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/index.html
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seniorshealth.html

Sources: Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health

Wellness Wednesday: Putting Heart Health First

February is American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

AHM-FB-1

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. While Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk for heart disease, African American men are disproportionately affected more by heart disease than other races or ethnicities. Additionally, more than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

Million Hearts®, a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, is encouraging African American men to take charge of their health and start one new, heart-healthy behavior that can help reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

African American men can make a big difference in their heart health by taking these small steps.

  • Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. It’s important to schedule regular check-ups even if you think you are not sick. Partner with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and trust their advice.
  • Add exercise to your daily routine. Start off the month by walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. By mid-month, increase your time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week.
  • Increase healthy eating. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices.
  • Take steps to quit smoking. If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use website.
  • Take medication as prescribed. Talk with your doctor about the importance of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications. If you’re having trouble taking your medicines on time or if you’re having side effects, ask your doctor for help.

Tools to Support Heart Health

AHM-FB-6Visit the Million Hearts ® website to find tools that can help you set heart-healthy goals that last a lifetime.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Watch Mercy Health System’s #GoRed for Heart Month Dance Video on YouTube!

 

Wellness Wednesday: Better Sleep Could Mean a Healthier Heart

Exercise and eating nutritious foods aren’t the only things that can help increase heart health; sleep is also a factor.

80408202

The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. According to a 2011 study by the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease.

“Our study shows for the first time that poor quality sleep puts individuals at significantly increased risk of developing high blood pressure,” said Susan Redline, M.D., the study’s co-author, in a statement.

Recommended amount of sleep

SleepSo how much sleep is the right amount? Lundberg is hesitant to put an exact number on it. She says it varies from person to person, but that most people need seven hours per night. When we are young, we need more than that. As we grow older, we may need less, she says. According to the American Heart Association, studies have found that most people need six to eight hours of sleep each day and that too little or too much can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Negative effects of sleep deprivation

The heart is significantly impacted when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. As Dr. Gina Lundberg, clinical director of Emory Women’s Heart Center, says, “People who are sleep deprived have slower metabolism and more difficulty losing weight. They also have the effect of not wanting to exercise or participate in other healthy habits.”

Positive effects of good sleep

The positive effects of a good sleep are immediately evident when we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Beyond just feeling good, Lundberg explains the solid benefits to our bodies.

“The positive effect of sleep is not just on your heart health but also on your stress hormones, your immune system, your breathing, and your mental status,” she says.

“People who get seven to eight hours of sleep have more alertness and better focus. They have less depression and anxiety. Getting a good night’s sleep has a positive impact on your metabolism and weight loss benefits.”

Issues for menopausal women

As women’s bodies go through menopause, sometimes their sleep is affected. This, Lundberg says, is often due to hot flashes and night sweats. “Some is due to changes in their activity level and metabolism,” she adds. “Many women complain of the inability to fall asleep and many others complain of the inability to stay asleep.”

How to improve your sleep habits

Do you suffer for a lack of restful sleep? If so, there several things you can do to improve your situation.

  • Exercise: Try getting adequate exercise. According to the American Heart Association’s 2013 exercise standards, it is important to schedule in 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise at least three to four times per week.
  • Avoid excess caffeine: Avoid excess stimulants, such as caffeine, particularly before bed as they may keep you awake.
  • Establish an evening routine: “Have an evening routine of preparing for bed that includes turning off electronic devices and having soothing activities such as a hot shower or bath,” recommends Lundberg. “Drinking chamomile or herbal sleepy-time tea can also be helpful, as can reading, praying or meditating.”

Learn more tips to improve your quality of sleep.

Source: American Heart Association Go Red for Women

 

Wellness Wednesday: Life’s Simple 7

Do you know there are seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease? Manage your heart risk by understanding “Life’s Simple 7.”

Get active

Red puzzle heart with stethoscope on grey wooden backgroundDaily physical activity increases the length and quality of your life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

What To Do:
Start by learning the basics about fitness. Also, children need 60 minutes a day—every day—of physical activity, so find ways to workout with your kids to help ensure their heart health in addition to your own.

Control cholesterol

When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.

What To Do:
Try these tips to lower cholesterol with diet and foods.

GRFW-Food-DiaryEat better

Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life.

What To Do:
Want more ways to eat better? Try these tips:

  • Track what you eat with a food diary.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods.
  • Eat fish twice a week.
  • Cut back on added sugars and saturated fats.

Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.

BPHigh blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.

What To Do:
To manage blood pressure, you should:

Lose weight

If you have too much fat—especially if a lot of it is at your waist—you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.

What To Do:
Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to help you determine if you need to lose weight.

Reduce blood sugar

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

What To Do:
The following tips can all help reduce your blood sugar:

  • Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts.
  • Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin.
  • Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you.

Stop smoking

iStock_000018054489_LargeCigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health.

What To Do:
Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.

Learn more about “Life’s Simple 7” and take action with MyLifeCheck from the American Heart Association.

Source: American Heart Association, Go Red for Women


More Information:

Go Red For Women’s food diary