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

February is Heart Health Month. The Topic is Hypertension: Part One

♥IMPORTANT: The purpose of this three-part article embraces the quote below about  prevention with education and action.  However, please note that the information here is not meant to replace your doctor’s advice nor is it meant as a diagnosis. It is information for your edification and understanding, and perhaps something you can share with your doctor about your concerns. I am not a doctor. Rather, I am a nutrition educator with a passion to learn about and share the links between food & lifestyle and health.

Background Info:

February is  ♥Heart Health Month♥ and this Friday, Feb. 3rd, is Go Red for Women Day, and also National Wear Red Day, the day to wear Red in support of healthy hearts for womenHere is a quote from

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we have the power to change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.


“Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for a heart attack or stroke. In fact, it is generally regarded as the greatest of the risk factors for a stroke.” (Source: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.)

So when my friend Krista* called me the other day to tell me that when she went to a new dentist, who took an extensive health history and also her vital signs, she was told she had high blood pressure. Later that day I took all my health resource books from my shelf and started to gather facts that might help her while she made an appointment with her family doctor.

*Krista shared with me that she was in the beginning stages of menopause, or peri-menopause, so I searched for a tie between higher blood pressure and menopause. In an article from the Mayo Clinic+, it seems there is a connection. Google the questions or go directly to the website for the article. If you are peri-menopause, you may want to read it before you read the rest of my posting.

+Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure?Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.,

Terms and Numbers:

The top number in the reading is called the systolic pressure and that is the higher number. Between the heartbeats, the heart relaxes, so the blood pressure drops. This diastolic pressure is the lower number. Both these terms give you your blood pressure reading, which means the resistance produced each time your heart beats, sending blood through your arteries.

According to an excellent article In Life Extension Magazine, the numbers used by the medical establishment for normal blood pressure may be too high: Here are some figures:

Direct Quote: The medical establishment disagreed and said that blood pressure up to 139/89 mmHg was not a problem. A huge study released in 2015 exposed the lethality of this position. In the group whose target goal systolic blood pressure was below 120 there was a:1

  • 38% lower relative risk of heart failure;
  • 43% lower relative risk of cardiovascular death;
  • 27% lower relative risk of mortality overall.

(I believe this article is so important that I am posting the link here as well as at the end of the two-part article that I think it bears reading now!)

All my resources overlapped in recommendations, but the above-mentioned encyclopedia divided the factors into two parts: lifestyle factors and dietary factors, because both are related to hypertension.

Below are two lists that I created from information on the encyclopedia and the other resources. (See Bibliography at the end)

Lifestyle Risk Factors                                            Dietary Risk Factors

Smoking                                                            High to low sodium/potassium ratio

Alcohol consumption+                                  Low fiber diet

Lack of exercise                                               High sugar and high saturated fat

Stress                                                                 Low calcium and magnesium

Too much salt                                                   Low vitamin C

Too much caffeine (Some research suggests caffeine is helpful, others still cautious. notes that medical studies still connect caffeine with dangerously elevated blood pressure and suggests brewing your own decaf.) I would recommend organic decaf because of the chemicals used in commercial decaf processing.

+ In, moderate drinking is now encouraged. For women, that means only 1.5 oz. of spirits or 5 oz. of wine, or 12 oz.of beer at one sitting) See Bibliography at the end.

Many of the recommendations are similar to those given for other ailments, so if you follow the advice of the research and your health practitioner, you might find relief from other ailments not as serious as hypertension, but nevertheless, any positive “by-products” of changing your lifestyle habits and dietary habits seem to be steps in the right direction. My suggestion is to introduce new foods gradually so that you don’t become overwhelmed with all the changes the doctor suggests.

In Dr. Christiane Northrup’s excellent book, The Wisdom of Menopause, she says it best on page 190 in the summary of Chapter 6 on Foods & Supplements to Support Change. Direct quote:

Start Somewhere! Don’t let all these choices overwhelm you or become another heavy list of “should.” The wisdom of nature is user-friendly, and you have a lot within you already. To tap into it, just pick the herb, the formula, or the foods that seem to jump out at you and say, “Try me.” Because all of the foods and herbs I’ve mentioned contain phytohormones of some kind and virtually have no side effects, feel free to experiment.”

I would add: Check with your doctor or health practitioner first! es


Bibliography: I am posting the Bibliography in both parts of the article, in case you want to follow up on some of the information before Part 2.



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. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. (2nd edition)

Northrup, Christiane, The Wisdom of Menopause. bantam Books, New York, 2001.

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: (The first is one of the best resources I found for this topic. es) Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure? By: Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D., 


Part Two later this week: List of Recommendations, including Nutritional Suggestions/Recipe, and Bibliography Reprinted 

Part Three: Heart Healthy Recipes – endof week or over the week-end


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