More Heart Information

The American Heart Association (AHA) sent me an envelope filled with information on our hearts. I used the title of the greeting card, Celebrate Your Heart, for my last posting a few days ago, and now I am adding some important information about heart disease from this same organization.

(Link to previous posting:…nd-heart-disease/)


Healthy Hearts depend on many factors, some of which are: Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Body Mass Index (BMI), Total Cholesterol and  HDL (good) Cholesterol. Most blood tests will provide this information, except for Blood Pressure, which your doctor can determine in an office visit.

Physical Activity and Your Heart:

Most articles I have read suggest what the AMH recommends: At least 130 minutes of exercise per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or a combination of both. If you do 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days, that should be sufficient.

My exercise plan includes 2 sessions of cleaning house, which often take 1-2 hours; tai chi for 45 min. once each week; yoga once each week; treadmill and weights in the condo  gym or my own bedroom, once or twice each week; walking once each week in winter and more often in the summer, along with swimming every day. When I miss tai chi or yoga, I aim to make it up in our condo gym.

Preventing & Managing Diabetes:

Ask your doctor for a fasting glucose test, control your weight and blood cholesterol. I don’t agree with all their dietary recommendations so I go to my D.O. for that information. But I do agree that smoking and second-hand smoke only exacerbate cardiovascular issues for people with diabetes.

High Blood Pressure: While salt is generally the big issue here, the other two factors of avoiding stress with meditation, toga, walking, etc. and limiting your alcohol intake are also important. (For women especially, too much alcohol is a high risk factor, so the AHA recommends only one drink for day.)

Healthy Eating: Of course, as a nutrition educator, I focus on food that is fresh, organic when possible, lightly cooked without deep-frying or grilling at high heats, lots of green veggies, etc.

Smoking: Since there are no nutrients in smoking and nothing good to say about this addiction, go for help if you want to erase this risk factor.

The warning signs for a heart attack include:

Chest discomfort that lasts for more than a few minutes and can include pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain.

Discomfort in other parts of the upper body (arms, legs, back, neck, jaw or stomach),

Other signs: shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, light-headedness.

The American Heart Association also had a small insert about stroke. Considered a medical emergency because time lost is brain cells lost, these warnings are important:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body).

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Do Not Delay: Call 911 or EMS (emergency Medical Services)

Below the list is a fact that I did not know: Check the time any of these symptoms appear and take immediate action. A clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke, but only if given within three hours of the start of symptoms.

All this information can be found on the Internet and probably in brochures in the hospital or doctor’s office. Become familiar with risk factors and warning signs and take immediate action.

For more information, go to the website:
or call 1-800-AHA-USA1

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Part Two

If you wish to read Part One before reading this, which I suggest, please click on my link in Menupause:

Don’t forget to wear RED tomorrow, February 3rd, for Go Red for Women and Heart Health Month!

List of Recommendations:

The list from Prescription for Natural Healing by Balch & Balch seems to be the most comprehensive, although I have added a few from my other sources:

  1. Follow a strict salt-free diet. (Read all labels of food you do not make yourself and look for other salt symbols such as Na, sodium, MSG, etc.)
  2. Add more fiber to your diet, such as oat bran, and raw fruits & raw or lightly cooked veggies. (See #3 also.) Ask your doctor about a supplemental fiber to be taken separately from other supplements and medications if you are gearing up to eating more fruits & veggies.
  3. Eat more whole grains such as millet, buckwheat, brown rice, etc. (This also adds fiber to your diet.)
  4. Make sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those in season, from apples to prunes and from asparagus to spinach. (I suggest buying these organically grown. I will post a seasonal list from Dr. Douillard’s soon. es)
  5. Drink filtered water and fresh “live” juices. Consider periodic cleansing or fasts, but check with your doctor first.
  6. Avoid animals fats, especially processed meats. Eat more fish and skinless turkey or chicken. (Vegetarians seem to have lower blood pressure, but not all people can handle a meatless diet, so listen to your body.)
  7. Don’t forget to exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep. Avoid stressful situations as much as possible. suggests you not put in overtime, since it affects your eating and exercise habits. Not a bad suggestion! Likewise, the article suggests getting help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is also linked to high blood pressure.
  8. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Keep a record.
    In a second article from Life Extension Magazine, there is interesting information entitled “Why 24 – Hour Blood Pressure Control Matters. (See Bibliography for link.)
  9. Maintain a healthy weight. Mayo Clinic article, mentioned earlier,
    “Blood pressure generally increases after menopause. Some doctors think this increase suggests that hormonal shifts related to menopause may contribute to high blood pressure. Others think an increase in body mass index (BMI) in menopausal women may play a greater role than hormonal changes.”
  10. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Do not take antihistamines without doctor’s directions. (The book lists some other medical considerations that I think your doctor will advise you about, such as meds you are already taking and how they may affect certain foods or remedies.)

Nutrition Tips:

Since I am a nutrition educator, I like to focus on the dietary aspects, since I feel that’s the area where I feel most comfortable making suggestions. Here are just a few to get you started, some of which are mentioned above, but repeated for emphasis.

  1. Increase plants foods, especially celery and green leafy veggies. Also use garlic, onions, nuts & seeds for Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), cold water fish, food high in Vitamin C (ex. broccoli and citrus fruits), flaxseeds & flaxseed oil, olive oil, and oatmeal. recommends (white) potatoes, although not fried.
  2. Herbs such as cayenne pepper, hawthorn berry extract, parsley, and rosemary.
  3. Some of the supplements mentioned include B6, Vitamin C, CoQ10, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. However, I would suggest asking your doctor about a blood test or hair analysis to determine which nutrients your body needs before going out and loading up on supplements when you are not sure what your body needs.
  4. A sidebar on Active Beat is worth quoting: “The chemical used to make plastic bottles and canned goods may play a role in raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart disease. It’s hardly the first report pointing to the dangers of consuming BPA, or bisphenol-A.” So avoiding cans or plastic containers with these chemicals is another caveat under dietary habits.


As you can see, there is a lot to absorb, so take small steps, replacing negative habits with positive habits, gradually. (See quote in Part One from Dr. Christiane Northrup entitled: Start Somewhere. Link @ the top.)

A salt-free diet can be more palatable with herbs, such as those listed above. Learning to read labels is important. Trying one new green vegetable a week might be manageable. If you are not sure you can handle juices, go to a health food store or gym and buy one glass to try.

Almost all the recipes on my website include the foods listed here, but feel free to look up recipes specifically for hypertension. While I don’t think you can be your own doctor if you have a serious ailment, you can be your own advocate and do some research on your own. Make a list of questions for your doctor so you don’t forget to ask him when you are in the office.

Your health doesn’t depend just on your doctor. He or she has many, many patients. Your health depends a great deal on YOU, so please be dependable and examine your lifestyle habits and your dietary habits. Your heart will love you for it, as will the rest of your body!


Balch, James M.D. and Balch, Phyllis, C.N.C. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing Group, New York.

Kamen, Betty. 1,001 Health Secrets, Nutrition Encounter, Novato, Calif.

Murray, N.D. and Pizzorno, N.D. Encylopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. (2nd edition)

Segala, Melanie, Ed. Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Expanded Fourth Edition

Internet Sources: (My sources are older, so I checked the Internet, as well. 8 Naturally Effective Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

By: Emily Lockhart on Tuesday, March 10th

Life Extension: Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure?by: Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.,


Part 3: I decided to post the recipes separately, as this article seems long enough!

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