heart health

What you eat and drink, your exercise and activity level, how you cope with

stress and lifestyle factors help determine the health of your heart. You can

keep your heart healthy regardless of age, but it does require effort and possible

changes in everyday habits.  Follow a heart-healthy diet, get plenty of exercise,

do what you can to reduce stress and live a life of moderation and you will be

well on your way to maintaining a healthy heart. Though heart disease risks

increase with age, it does not have to be an inevitable part of getting older.


What exactly is heart disease? Heart disease is a progressive condition that

can start early in life but can also be prevented or controlled by making smart

lifestyle choices. It is the term given to a group of different health conditions

that affect the heart. These conditions are commonly known as:








Normally, the heart continues to pump enough blood to supply all parts of

the body. However, an older heart may not be able to pump blood as well

when you make it work harder. Some things that trigger the heart to work

harder are:


        • Certain medications

        • Emotional stress

        • Extreme physical exertion

        • Illness

        • Infections


It is never too late to start living a heart healthy lifestyle and here’s how to

get started.


        • Incorporate 30 minutes of daily exercise into your daily routine.

        • If you do smoke-today is the day to quit.

        • Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables

        • Maintain regular medical appointments to monitor health conditions

        • Reduce alcohol intake

        • Find healthy outlets to reduce stress

        • Maintain a healthy body weight for your size

high cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat (also called a lipid) that your body needs to work properly.

When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood

vessels. These deposits could make it difficult for proper blood flow through your

arteries. High cholesterol has no symptoms but can be detected through a blood

test. It is also important to discuss blood test results with your physician.


Desired levels for Cholesterol:


Total Cholesterol:


        • Below 200 is desirable

        • 200-239 Borderline

        • 240 or above is considered High Risk


HDL (High-density lipoproteins) Also known as good cholesterol:


        • 60 or above low risk

        • 40 – 60 Optimal

        • 40 or below high risk


LDL (low-density lipoproteins) Also known as bad cholesterol:


        • 100 or below low risk




        • 150 or below low risk


Fats will impact your cholesterol. Eating healthy fats is good for the heart

and most other parts of the body. Healthy fats include monounsaturated,

polyunsaturated and omega -3 fats. A few healthy fat foods you should add

to your diet are:

• Avocados

• Nuts and seeds

• Olive oil

• Corn oil

• Peanut oil

• Flaxseed oil

• Peanut butter

• Olives

• Sunflower seeds

• Soft tub margarines

• Salmon

• Tuna

• Mackerel

• Sardines

hypertension (high blood pressure)

Blood pressure, sometimes referred to as arterial blood pressure, is the

pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels, and is

one of the principal vital signs. Ensure your blood pressure is checked during

your routine physician visits. If you have any concerns regarding your blood

pressure, discuss purchasing a digital blood pressure machine with your

healthcare provider.


See our helpful links and suggested readings on this topic.


Blood pressure is recording as two numbers:


1. Systolic Pressure (as the heart beats) over

2. Diastolic Pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)


Desired Systolic Pressure less than 120


Desired Diastolic Pressure less than 80


The D.A.S.H. diet plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is proven

effective for lowering blood pressure. Below are excellent food choices you can

incorporate into your diet. You can visit www.dashdiet.org for more information

on the DASH diet and for healthy, delicious recipes. Talk with your doctor about

what the best diet plan is for you.

Skim milk


Unsalted sunflower seeds


White baked potato



Dark chocolate


High fat fish

Decaffeinated herbal teas

Red wine

congestive heart failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) does not mean the heart has stopped

working, it means the pumping power is weaker than normal. With CHF,

the blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate. This results

in the heart not pumping enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s





Symptoms of heart failure often begin slowly, usually at times when you

are active. Over time, you may notice breathing problems and other symptoms

when you are resting.


Common symptoms include:


        • Cough

        • Fatigue, weakness, faintness

        • Loss of appetite

        • Need to urinate at night

        • Pulse that feels fast or irregular

        • Shortness of breath when you are active or after you lie down

        • Swollen feet and ankles

        • Waking up from sleep after a couple of hours due to shortness of


        • Weight gain


If you think you may have heart failure, or you are worried about your heart

failure risk, make an appointment with your family doctor. If heart failure is found

early, your treatment may be easier and more effective. Always be prepared for

your doctor’s appointments with questions and information to share about your

current health status. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions. It's never too

early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, cutting down on

salt and eating healthy foods. These changes can help prevent heart failure from

starting or worsening. Your doctor often can suggest strategies to help you get

and stay on track.

heart attack

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart

muscle. “Myo” means muscle, cardial refers to the heart and “infarction” means

death of tissue due to lack of blood supply. The cause of a heart attack is not

always known.


Symptoms of a heart attack can include:


        • Pain in your chest that radiates down your left arm, jaw or back pain

        • Anxiety

        • Cough

        • Fainting

        • Light-headedness, dizziness

        • Nausea or vomiting

        • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is beating too fast or irregularly)

        • Shortness of breath

        • Sweating, which may be very heavy after sudden, severe emotional

          or physical stress, including an illness


A heart attack is caused by:


        • A piece of plaque breaking off and blocking blood from flowing to the

          heart. This is the most common cause of heart attack.

        • A slow buildup of plaque narrowing one of the coronary arteries so that

          it is almost blocked.


A Heart attack may occur:


        • When you are resting or asleep

        • After a sudden increase in physical activity


Lifestyle changes


In addition to medications, the same lifestyle changes that can help you recover

from a heart attack can also help prevent future heart attacks. These include:


        • Not smoking

        • Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, high

          cholesterol and diabetes

        • Staying physically active

        • Eating healthy foods

        • Maintaining a healthy weight

        • Reducing and managing stress


A stroke, sometimes referred to as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the

loss of brain function due to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or strokes can occur if blood flow to the

brain is disrupted.

See our helpful links and suggested readings on this topic.


Sometimes symptoms of stroke develop gradually. But if you are having a

stroke, you are more likely to have one or more sudden warning signs. Seek

emergency medical advice (calling 911) immediately, as immediate medical

attention could reduce effects of the stroke.


Common warning signs of stroke:


        • Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side

        • Facial drooping on one side

        • Confusion or trouble understanding other people

        • Trouble speaking or slurred speech

        • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes

        • Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated

        • Dizziness

        • Severe headache that comes on for no known reason


Types of Strokes:


An ischemic stroke happens when a vessel supplying blood to the brain

becomes blocked.


A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures

and bleeds into the brain.


A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a "mini stroke" from a temporary blockage.

Although a TIA doesn't cause permanent brain damage, it may cause stroke

warning signs.


Never ignore stroke warning signs. Responding to symptoms quickly may

decrease the affects.