February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Learn about heart disease in women and what you can do to keep a healthy heart.

Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
  • Some conditions and lifestyle choices increase a person’s chance for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
  • High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. LDL is  considered the “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking will reduce your chances for heart disease.

Symptoms

While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms including:

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest.
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.
Stethoscope with plastic heartHealthy Hearts

Heart disease is largely preventable.
Listen to CDC’s Dr. Bowman discuss ways to prevent heart problems.
[00:04:06 minutes]

What You Can Do for Heart Health

You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults needs 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
  • Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.
  • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of heart health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:
    • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it
    • Blood pressure control
    • Cholesterol management
    • Smoking cessation

From http://www.cdc.gov/features/wearred/index.html

Enzyme that triggers muscle wasting could be key to REVERSING signs of ageing

The effects can be devastating for patients who can develop features such as muscle wasting and weakness, weight gain, thinning of the bones, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Dr Hassan-Smith said: ‘Looking at this particular enzyme seemed like an intriguing way forward.

‘We knew how it works in relation to Cushing’s Syndrome, which is characterised by similar symptoms, and thought it would be worthwhile applying what we knew to the ageing population.’

via Enzyme that triggers muscle wasting could be key to REVERSING signs of ageing | Daily Mail Online | CushieBlog.

Heart failure symptoms easy to miss for unsuspecting patients – Chicago Tribune

“I have hardly been sick a day in my life. I take vitamins, try homeopathic remedies and have a great immune system,” says Kilian, 53.However, little did she know while treating her flu/bronchitis symptoms at home in November 2013, that she would end up in the hospital for nearly three weeks.”

Over the winter, I just wasn’t getting better,” says Kilian. “I was having trouble breathing and was starting to feel like I was gaining weight from eating healthy foods to keep my strength up. But, in reality, I was retaining fluid from heart failure.”

Kilian said that her water retention started out slowly, but it became more rapid as her symptoms progressed. Eventually, her brother, who lives in Naperville, brought her to the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Emergency Department.”

The doctors were shocked at the amount of fluid that I had around my heart. I ended up with a pacemaker in the process,” says Kilian.

Read the entire article at Heart failure symptoms easy to miss for unsuspecting patients – Chicago Tribune.

Monday – Six Weeks Post-Op

day-mon

Another slow day.  The 3 walking events from last weekend were just too much for now.  In all three instances, they involved parking garages and it was cold.  I remember the visiting nurse saying to put a scarf over his nose to keep the air coming in a bit warmer but, of course, we didn’t have a scarf.

Someone had asked DH to meet at iHop tonight.  I weighed in and said that they should meet at Bob Evans because we knew that there was something there he could eat and we had no idea if there was anything at iHop.

The day slipped by in naps and DH never made the call.  His phone was off and he finally got the message that the person had been waiting for 30 minutes at iHop.  <sigh>

The dog got to go for a ride when we dropped DH off.

Fortunately, DH got a ride home so we didn’t have to go back out.  He said that I was right (of course!) – there wasn’t anything on the menu he could eat.  But he managed to cobble together something with fresh fruit, dry toast and herbal tea.  I thought the only fruit there was in those syrups.

day-wed

We had snow, sort of.  Big, heavy stuff that would have been good for a snowman but we weren’t going out, except for me walking the dog.

I was having a movie kind of day and heard someone out in the driveway, shoveling.  I went out to investigate and found two women from church clearing our driveway.  That was so nice 🙂  In a bit DH came out and said hello, too.

day-thurs

Thursday, I was into day 2 of an itchy cycle.  I haven’t written about that yet, so there’s something to look forward to!  As a result, I don’t do much of anything but itch and be miserable.  At night, I can take Benadryl which helps the itching and makes me sleep.

More on that later!

day-fri

Fridays, I normally play piano duets with an older friend but I hadn’t been since before Christmas.  I decided it was time to go back so I took DH along with me.  We all had a nice visit – we’ve known my friend and her husband for maybe 35 years.  She had a heart attack about 15 or so years ago so DH was able to ask lots of questions.

When we got back, it was nap time, again.  It’s still mostly do something followed by an equal length nap but it’s getting better.

day-sat

I had been awake until 4:30 am so I wasn’t in a great mood when I woke up.  DH wanted to go walking at the Mall – but first, a stop at Staples for more business cards.

I was already tired before we got to the Mall but we walked a bit.  Stopped in the Apple Store to look at iPad Minis, then turned around.  He went into Zales to get the ruby he didn’t get on the first day, the anniversary-heart-attack-day.

On the way out of the mall, he said we could go to Bob Evans for breakfast and I said no way!  Too tired.

day-sun

Back to Staples to pick up the cards from Staples, then on to walk around Wal-Mart.  DH looked longingly at no-salt peanuts.  I showed him the back with the calorie counts and pointed out the size of 1 serving and asked if he could stick to that.  He put them back.

Back home and more nap time.

He says he’s feeling better and better, has lost more weight, no more pain killers.  Hooray!

7 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

Blood pressure check

Blood pressure check (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

Whether you’re among the 1 in 3 Americans with high blood pressure or have so far avoided this deadly disease, these tips will help prevent becoming a statistic.

Heart disease and stroke rank among the top five causes of death in the U.S. They’re also both commonly caused by one condition: hypertension.

One in three Americans suffer from this often symptom-less condition, also known as high blood pressure and the silent killer.

“You can have it for years without knowing it,” say the National Institutes of Health. “During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.”

The ideal blood pressure reading is generally 120/80, with higher readings considered pre-hypertension or, if over 140/90, hypertension.

If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, step one is finding out by checking with your doctor. In the long run, that visit will cost less than letting the problem remain undiagnosed – and uncontrolled. Even if you require medication, it’s cheaper than the long-term costs and complications of untreated high blood pressure.

In some cases, high BP can be managed or prevented by low-cost lifestyle changes alone. So in honor of Heart Month, we’ve rounded them up…

  • Pass the salt. Limiting sodium helps control high blood pressure in those who have it and helps prevent it in those who don’t. According to government dietary guidelines, adults should limit their daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. But for people with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic liver disease; children; adults over age 50; and African-Americans – about half the U.S. – the limit is 1,500 mg. Beware especially of processed and packaged foods, fast foods, and canned foods – all common sources of excessive salt.
  • Eat enough potassium. This mineral helps lower blood pressure. The recommended daily intake for adults is 4,700 mg. Bananas average 451 mg – foods with even more include cantaloupe, avocados, dates, raisins, dried apricots, prune juice, baked potatoes (with the skins), yogurt, sardines, and flounder. Check out the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s downloadable list of Sources of Dietary Potassium for more.
  • Change your diet. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, helps fight high blood pressure by emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. U.S. News & World Report also recently ranked it the No. 1 best diet overall, No. 1 best diet for healthy eating, and even the No. 1 best diabetes diet. Check out Dr. Oz’s recent segment about the diet to learn more.
  • Watch your weight. Blood pressure tends to increase as weight does. Last year, a University of Illinois study found that even among hearty college students, a weight gain of as little as 1.5 pounds was enough to raise BP. Fortunately, it’s also true that BP tends to drop as weight does.
  • Relax. The connection between stress and high blood pressure isn’t fully understood. But researchers do know that (1) stressful situations can cause temporary BP spikes and (2) stress management and stress-lowering activities can help lower BP, according to the Mayo Clinic. Getting enough sleep, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise can help reduce stress. Check out 7 Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress for more ideas.
  • Avoid alcohol. According to the Mayo Clinic, not only does too much alcohol raise blood pressure, repeated excess drinking can lead to long-term BP increases. Women should limit themselves to one drink, men to two.
  • Indulge in dark chocolate instead. An Australian study published last year found that a daily dose of dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in natural compounds called “flavanols” helped to lower blood pressure. Just don’t overdo it and gain weight.

From MoneyTalksNews

Recipe: Low-Sodium Chicken Piccata

Adapted from The DASH Diet Action Plan: Proven to Boost Weight Loss and Improve Health (A DASH Diet Book)

We had this last night and DH really liked it. I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand and my car is still out of commission so I made a few changes 🙂

Original Recipe:

Chicken Breast, no skin, 16 ounces
Yellow Cornmeal, .5 cup
Lemon pepper 1 tbsp
Low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup
Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
Lemon Juice, 2 tbsp
Butter, unsalted, 2 tbsp

Directions

Preheat broth over medium heat.
pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch think.
Mex cornmeal and pepper on a plate and dip chicken in it. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side until brown. Remove from pan and keep warm.
Add lemon juice and hot chicken broth to skillet, scraping the pan. Reduce heat to medium, stir in butter. Return chicken to skillet and cook for 3 minutes until done. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: 4 4oz servings

Number of Servings: 4

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 287
Total Fat: 12 g
Cholesterol: 82 mg
Sodium: 94 mg
Total Carbs: 20 g
Protein 28 g
Potassium: 299 mg


My Version:

Chicken Breast, no skin, 16 ounces, cut into thin slices
Mss. Dash Original, 1 tbsp
Low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup
Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
Lime Juice, 2 tbsp (note change lemon to lime)
Butter, unsalted, 1 tbsp

Directions

Preheat broth over medium heat.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add lime juice, Mrs. Dash and chicken broth to skillet, scraping the pan. Add chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side until brown.  Reduce heat to medium, stir in butter.
Serve immediately.

Number of Servings: 6

More on CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting)

From the NIHWhat To Expect After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Checkmark
What DH had

Recovery in the Hospital

CheckmarkAfter surgery, you’ll typically spend 1 or 2 days in an intensive care unit (ICU). Your health care team will check your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels regularly during this time.

CheckmarkAn intravenous (IV) line will likely be inserted into a vein in your arm. Through the IV line, you may get medicines to control blood flow and blood pressure. You also will likely have a tube in your bladder to drain urine and a tube in your chest to drain fluid.

CheckmarkYou may receive oxygen therapy (oxygen given through nasal prongs or a mask) and a temporary pacemaker while in the ICU. A pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

CheckmarkYour doctor also might recommend that you wear compression stockings on your legs. These stockings are tight at the ankle and become looser as they go up the legs. This creates gentle pressure that keeps blood from pooling and clotting.

CheckmarkWhile in the ICU, you’ll also have bandages on your chest incision (cut) and on the areas where arteries or veins were removed for grafting.

After you leave the ICU, you’ll be moved to a less intensive care area of the hospital for 3–5 days before going home. (only 2!)

Recovery at Home

Your doctor will give you instructions for recovering at home (yes to all), such as:

  • How to care for your healing incisions
  • How to recognize signs of infection or other complications
  • When to call the doctor right away
  • When to make followup appointments

You’ll also learn how to deal with common side effects from surgery. Side effects often go away within 4–6 weeks after surgery, but may include:

  • Discomfort or itching from healing incisions
  • Swelling of the area where arteries or veins were removed for grafting
  • Muscle pain or tightness in the shoulders and upper back
  • Fatigue (tiredness), mood swings, or depression
  • Problems sleeping or loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Chest pain at the site of the chest bone incision (more frequent with traditional CABG)

Full recovery from traditional CABG may take 6–12 weeks or more. Nontraditional CABG doesn’t require as much recovery time.

Your doctor will tell you when you can become active again. It varies from person to person, but there are some typical timeframes.

Often, people can resume sexual activity and return to work after about 6 weeks. Some people may need to find less physically demanding types of work or work a reduced schedule at first.

Talk with your doctor about when you can resume activity, including sexual activity, working, and driving.

Ongoing Care

Care after surgery may include periodic checkups with doctors. During these visits, you may have tests to see how your heart is working. Tests may include an EKG (electrocardiogram), stress testingechocardiography, and a cardiac CT scan.

CABG is not a cure for coronary heart disease (CHD). After the surgery, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes. Following the plan can help you stay healthy and lower the risk of CHD getting worse.

Lifestyle changes might include changing your diet, quitting smoking, being physically activelosing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress.

For more information about lifestyle changes, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Living Well With Heart Disease.”

Your doctor also may refer you to cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems.

Cardiac rehab includes exercise training, education on heart healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. Your doctor can tell you where to find a cardiac rehab program near your home.

Taking medicines as prescribed also is important after CABG. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to manage pain during recovery, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots forming, manage diabetes, or treat depression.