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Posts Tagged ‘American Heart Month’

Tips for Keeping Your Heart Healthy. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Laura Lasonczyk.

Hoda on national wear red day

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? American Heart Month was first created in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time of American Heart Month’s creation, heart disease was the cause of 50% of US deaths.

Heart disease and stroke remain the leading causes of death, with more than 17 million deaths each year. In fact, the American Heart Association created National Wear Red Day, which happened on Friday, February 3, as part of their Go Red for Women initiative. It is meant to spread the word that heart disease is the leading killer of women, too, not just men.

There are many factors that can go in to whether or not someone will develop heart disease. These factors include (but are not limited to) diet, activity level and genetics. The aim of this blog is to give you some tips for how to keep your heart healthy. The American Heart Association’s website is a great resource and you can always check there for additional tips and tricks on how to improve your heart health.


  • Avoid trans fats
    • Trans fats are added to processed foods to enhance flavor and texture. However, it has been shown that they raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). You can avoid trans fats by limiting your intake of processed foods and by checking nutrition labels. Trans fats may be listed underneath the ‘Total Fat” category on the label or they may be listed as “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
    • Most people know that smoking is linked to lung cancer, but did you know that it is also linked to heart disease? Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance, decreases good cholesterol, and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health!
  • Get to and/or maintain a healthy weight
    • Being overweight or obese has a negative impact on health, heart health included. Your doctor is likely already monitoring your weight and possibly your body mass index (BMI) as well. A BMI of 18-24.9 is considered “normal,” 25-29.9 is considered “overweight” and >30 is considered “obese.” If you need to lose weight, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about the best way to go about losing weight.
  • Keep blood pressure controlled
    • Prolonged, elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease by making the heart work harder than it normally should. If you have high blood pressure, there are things you can do to help keep it controlled such as maintaining a low sodium diet, participating in aerobic exercise, and taking your prescription blood pressure medications as prescribed.
  • Keep cholesterol controlled
    • Elevated cholesterol can build-up in major blood vessels and cause plaques that increase the risk of heart attack. In order to prevent this, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fats along with regular exercise. If your doctor prescribes a cholesterol-lowering medication, it is also important to take it as prescribed.
  • Have good oral hygiene
    • While good oral hygiene is certainly good for dental health, did you know that it can also impact your heart health? It has been shown that the bacteria found in gum disease has been linked to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation in major blood vessels is an important risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
  • Remain active
    • Shoot for a goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Ideally, this would be spread out as 30 minutes 5 times weekly. If you are already meeting this level of activity, good for you! The more time you put in, the more benefit you will see. You can also try more vigorous activity if your doctor thinks that is safe for you.
    • Examples of moderate activity include: brisk walking, gardening, bicycling slower than 10 mph
    • Examples of vigorous activity include: race walking or running, bicycling faster than 10 mph, swimming laps, hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
  • Limit alcohol
    • Alcohol, in excess, can increase triglycerides, blood pressure, and the risk for obesity. Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks daily for men and one daily for women.
  • Get a proper amount of sleep
    • Sleep is beneficial to the body for many reasons, including heart health. A study of 3,000 adults over age 45 showed that people who slept <6 hours were at twice as high of risk of stroke/heart attack than people who slept 6-8 hours


National Wear Red Day Celebrates 13 Years of Combating Heart Disease and Stroke in Women on Friday, February 5.


Celebrate National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 5 by wearing red, of course!!

February is American Heart Month and in that spirit, the American Heart Association wants to remind women that heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths annually among women. Sadly, that accounts for the death of one woman every 80 seconds!

Fortunately, the majority of cardiac and stroke problems may be prevented just through education and healthy lifestyle adjustments. This is why National Wear Red Day was started–to help women make changes that may save their lives. The infograph above highlights how much change has occurred over just the last ten years.

To find out about the many, many accomplishments that have taken place in women’s heart health over the past ten years, go HERE.

To find out more about “Going Red for Women” and National Wear Red Day, go HERE.


More Info on Heart Month. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Jin Kim.

As a follow-up to Ericka’s blog posting, here is a bit more information on Heart Month.

The month of February this year is the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. The tradition began 50 years ago by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. February was designated as heart month to make people aware that heart disease is the nation’s number one killer. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease takes more lives than all types of cancer put together. And, according to President Obama, “Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States.”

To make the impact of heart disease easier to understand, among the estimated 83.6 million American adults, one person has a coronary event about every 34 seconds and one American will die from heart disease approximately every 83 seconds.

However, don’t be discouraged, because you can follow the AHA’s “Life’s Simple 7” to keep your heart healthy.

Here are the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7.”

1. Get Active

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day five times a week. Exercise can be as simple as walking and this will be a good start. Those who exercise regularly have better moods, less stress, and more energy. If you exercise at least 150 minutes a week, then your risk for heart disease goes down.

2. Control Cholesterol

What do the numbers mean when you measure your cholesterol level at your doctor’s office? There are two types of cholesterol. The good cholesterol is HDL and the bad cholesterol is LDL. If there is too much bad cholesterol (LDL), then it can lead to blockages in veins and arteries. The total cholesterol consists of HDL, LDL, and other lipid components. It would be desirable to have the total cholesterol level below 200.

If the total cholesterol is 200mg/dL or higher, then set a goal to lower your total cholesterol by avoiding foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, trans, and saturated fats.

In order to control your cholesterol, schedule an appointment to find out what your current level is. If your doctor has prescribed a cholesterol medication for you, it’s important to take the medication for your benefit.

3. Eat Better

This means consuming foods HIGH in fiber, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, because recent research shows fish may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. Don’t like fish? Try a fish oil supplement. We can help you choose one here in the pharmacy. Or ask your doctor.

People find it difficult to change their diets. Start one step at a time and you will increase your chance for feeling good and healthy.

4. Manage blood pressure

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. When blood pressure is in the normal range, it keeps you healthier longer, because there is less strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys. Don’t forget to take your blood pressure medication if your doctor has prescribed one.

5. Lose Weight

Obesity is a major independent risk factor for heart disease. If too much fat accumulates at one’s waist, then a person has a higher risk for multiple health problems. Losing as few as 5 ~ 10 pounds can make a difference in lowering blood pressure.

6. Reduce Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly as your doctor has recommended. High levels of uncontrolled blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, and nerves.

7. Stop Smoking

Cigarettes will shorten your life. Smoking increases a risk for coronary heart disease and damages your entire circulatory system. If you need help to quit smoking, stop by the pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist. In the meanwhile, you can visit the website www.smokefree.gov.

You can visit the website www.heart.org for more details on the “Life’s Simple 7” and other useful information regarding your heart.

February is American Heart Month! By Our February (Sadly, He is Leaving Us) Student, Paul Fina.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and roughly 600,000 people die of heart disease yearly–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths! About 935,000 people have a heart attack a year and 2 in every 3 is a person’s first heart attack.

Heart disease goes by many names including: coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and more! As a set of chronic diseases, it’s important to identify if you’re at risk early on and to take action.

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease. They include: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, and a family history of heart disease. Any of these risk factors increase the chance that you’ll have heart disease or a heart attack.

How to Identify Heart Disease

Many of the types of heart problems have similar warning signs which makes them difficult to differentiate.

  • Angina (Chest pain) – Any kind of discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing or painful feeling in your chest. It can also be felt in your shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, and back.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations – Irregular heartbeats that cause you to feel your heart beat in your chest.
  • Fast heart rate
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Many of these symptoms are general and require an expert to diagnose and determine what you have. If you experience many of these and haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease, you should schedule a visit with your physician.

7 Steps for a Healthier Heart

If you’re at risk for heart disease, you should make some small changes to your current lifestyle. These 7 steps also come with some helpful tips, but only you can make these changes. Take ownership over your health and live a healthier life!

  • Exercise several times a week–150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Find a buddy who also wants to lose weight, so that there is mutual accountability.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – Stay out of the junk food aisles in grocery stores and focus on eating fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Consume < 300mg of cholesterol daily.
  • Don’t smoke – Smoking decreases oxygen to the heart and can damage cells that make up your blood vessels.
  • Lose weight.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Aim for a fasting blood glucose of < 100mg/dL.

Eating healthier and exercising will help you to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and lower your fasting blood glucose.

February 28, as American Heart Month ends, is my last day with Plain City Druggist. I just wanted to thank everyone who I met during the month for making my experience a great one. Thanks!

Paul Fina