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February is American Heart Month -- Here's What American In-Home Care Wants You to Know About Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month -- Here's What American In-Home Care Wants You to Know About Heart Disease

February has been recognized as American Heart Month in the United States since 1963, urging Americans to learn more about heart disease and protect themselves and others against it. Since 2004, February has also been associated with Go Red For Women, showing that heart disease affects women too and is not just a man’s problem. During American Heart Month hospitals, schools, businesses, health departments and more encourage heart health awareness and heart attack prevention tactics for women and men. Heart Health Month also encourages people to get active on social media to spread heart health statistics, facts about preventing heart disease and heart attacks, and much more. Spreading factual awareness is the main goal of the month.

What is Heart Disease

Heart disease kills over 630,000 Americans each year; 366,000 of those from coronary artery disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States with over 11% of Americans having been diagnosed with the disease. The most common type of heart disease is called coronary artery disease and this is what can commonly lead to a heart attack. “Heart disease” is a catch all phrase for many types of cardiovascular issues and coronary artery disease is the most common. This is usually what people are referring to when they use the term heart disease. Thankfully, you can reduce your risk for heart disease through lifestyle changes and medication. Heart disease is the term for all types of diseases that affect the heart, arteries or blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks, stroke or heart failure. Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, called atherosclerosis. Plaque is formed of cholesterol, calcium and some other substances found in the blood. Plaque reduces the amount of oxygenated blood that is able to reach the heart and cause blood clots, which block blood flow entirely.

Heart Attack and Symptoms

Over 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, with 13% dying as a result. Because early interaction is so critical in reacting to heart attacks, health organizations have spent decades trying to improve public knowledge of heart attack symptoms and appropriate emergency responses. If people can recognize the symptoms of heart attack early, they can greatly reduce their risk of developing further complications and progressing into heart disease. That is one of the major goals of Heart Health Month - to raise awareness to people around the world of how to recognize and react to a heart attack and how to reduce their risks for developing heart disease. According to a study by Shiwani Mahajan, 6% of individuals – which represents over 13.5 million adults in the U.S. – were not aware of a single symptom of a heart attack. The study found men, blacks, Hispanics, people born outside the U.S., and those with high school or lower education were significantly more likely to not be aware of any symptoms.

Your Risk for Developing Heart Disease

Your risk of developing heart disease is higher if you have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, are overweight, have diabetes, smoke, don’t get regular exercise, have unhealthy eating habits, or have a family history of heart disease. Each risk factor increases your chance of developing heart disease, so the more risks you have the greater your chance for developing the disease. Many of these are not modifiable - like age, gender and family history. But a lot of these can be helped with lifestyle changes - like eating better and exercising more.

How to Manage Your Risks

Managing your risk for heart disease involves managing your risk for each of the factors that contribute to the disease. Many of these factors you can’t change, like genetics and age, but fortunately most of them you can change with small lifestyle changes. The first is getting physical exercise. To reduce your risk, you should be getting at least two and half hours of vigorous physical activity per week - that’s only 30 minutes per day for five days of the week. In addition, you should do 2 days a week of muscle and strength training. Even if this seems like a big barrier to overcome, start smaller with 5, 10, 15 minutes per day. Some exercise is better than none. Correlated with exercising, is achieving and maintaining an appropriate weight. Obesity is known to increase your risk for heart failure so maintaining a healthy weight will greatly reduce your risk. Being overweight is hard on your heart, and it increases your risk of having heart disease, stroke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is also important to stay active and reduce your sedentary time, or the amount of time you spend sitting or laying down. The CDC says that 31 million “senior” adults are considered inactive. Since risk for heart failure increases with age, it is important that older adults stay active through exercise and also limit their amount of sedentary time. In a recent study that looked at women with different activity levels, the most active group were 35% less likely to develop heart failure than the group with no activity. Women who walked regularly also had a 28% lower risk of developing heart failure than those who did not walk at all.

Besides exercise, eating a heart healthy diet is critical for reducing risk of heart disease. A heart healthy diet needs to be low in sodium and saturated fats. The DASH diet is a great option for any adult trying to reduce their risk for heart disease, or neurodegenerative diseases for that matter. The DASH diet consists of eating mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains, with small amounts of dairy, eggs, fish, beans, nuts and vegetable oils. Red meats and foods high in saturated fats or sugars should be severely limited. Learn more about the DASH diet in our Alzheimer’s management post (https://www.americaninhomecare.com/blog/2019/09/09/7802/). Stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Most adults need a solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Since there is no cure for heart disease, it is important to maintain healthy behaviors after being diagnosed with heart disease as well. Maintaining the same healthy behaviors after diagnosis can prevent the disease from progressing. Since there’s no cure for heart failure, improving quality of life and outcomes are key goals of treatment. Once diagnosed, the best steps for controlling heart disease are following a heart healthy diet, increasing daily physical activity levels, reducing sedentary behavior, avoiding tobacco products, restricting sodium intake, restricting fluid intake, and starting on medication to control the heart disease (including beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and statins). With proper lifestyle changes, heart failure can be monitored and hopefully managed for a long portion of time before any changes occur. Heart disease is a scary term, but with proper lifestyle habits you can significantly reduce your chance of heart attack or developing heart disease, as well as slowly down the rate of the disease after being diagnosed.

If you or someone you know is suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease or other age specific diseases, American In-Home Care and its subsidiaries, Whitsyms In-Home Care, Advocate In-Home Care and Douglas In-Home Care can help. Visit our website to learn more about the in home health services we offer for you and your loved ones.

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The Cause of Heart Disease: Uncovering the Truth

The cause of heart disease is high cholesterol. It is a medical and scientific fact. Or is it?

There is evidence that not only is this not the cause of heart disease, it is a misconception that is actually causing health problems and obesity in America. Renowned heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell, former Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona is one of the people who has evidence to support this claim.

Lundell told Disclose.tv that the real cause of heart disease is inflammation in the arteries, and that before this discovery, the accepted methods for preventing or treat heart disease were prescribing medications to lower cholesterol, and following a diet to reduce the intake of fats.

However, these low-fat diets that have been long accepted as a beneficial "heart healthy diet," have actually been the cause behind the epidemics of diabetes and obesity in the United States.

"Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive medications, and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before," said Lundell.

The Real Cause Of Heart Disease

So if elevetaed blood cholesterol isn't the culprit, then what is? The answer is inflammation. Inflammation of the artery wall causes cholesterol to get trapped in the arteries where it causes damage. Without inflammation, cholesterol could flow freely through the blood without getting trapped.

Inflammation is your body's natural response to foreign invaders such as a virus, bacteria, or toxin. Inflammation is a healthy and important cycle in our bodies, however, when we continually expose our body to the thing that is causing the inflammation, it doesn't have time to heal, and thus chronic inflammation is born. Constantly consuming food that humans were never designed to process regularly exposes us to chronic inflammation in our bodies and our arteries.

Why would someone repeatedly consume food that is causing this damage? Lundell told Disclose.tv that it is because they had been following the mainstream "low-fat - high carb" diet that was prescribed to prevent heart disease, not knowing that they were actually causing injury to their bodies.

"The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine," said Lundell.

What Causes Inflammation

The biggest cause of inflammation is the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates - sugars, flours and all of the products made from them - and the excessive consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils such as soybean, corn and sunflower oils that are found in almost all processed foods.

Because these foods have a very long shelf-life, they have become staples of the American diet for the past several decades, and according to Lundell, have been poisoning Americans ever since. Although those sweets, breads, and fried foods taste delicious when we consume them, they are wreaking havoc on our bodies.

"A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation," said Lundell.

How Do Carbohydrates Cause Inflammation?

How does a little piece of cake cause so much damage? When we consume simple carbohydrates like sugar, our blood sugar rises rapidly. In response to this, our pancreas produces a substance that exists to bring the sugar into our cells, where it is then stored as fat. However, if the cell is full and doesn't need any more sugar, it will reject it. This increases blood sugar even more, creating more excess in the body.

The excess sugar attaches to proteins in the blood vessels and causes repeated injury, and this eventually causes chronic inflammation. And when you consider that that piece of cake or that bag of chips not only contains simple carbohydrates, but is also likely coated in or contains several vegetable oils, the inflammatory property increase exponentially.

"When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels. While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries," said Lundell.

So What Is The Real Heart Healthy Diet?

Omega-6 oils are not dangerous in-and-of themselves, it is only when they are eaten in excess and the balance between omega-6 oils and omega-3 oils shifts drastically. Lundell told Disclose.tv that the mainstream American diet of processed foods has produced a huge imbalance of these two fats in favor of omega-6.

"There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils," said Lundell.

So what can we do to reduce inflammation and truly lower our risk of heart disease?

The one simple answer is to return to eating foods that are closer to their natural state, pure and unprocessed. Eat more protein, choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation-causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil, and the processed foods that are made from them.

Instead of choosing corn or soybean oil, use natural olive oil or coconut oil, or even ghee or butter from grass-fed beef. And add fats back in to your diet! With all the facts surrounding inflammation, it is no longer a legitimate concern to be worried about consuming fats. In fact, quite the opposite. Consuming a proportional amount of saturated fats, especially animal fats is actually good for your body and your heart. Healthy fats can be found in animal products, coconut flesh, milk, and oil, avocados and nuts.

"By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body," said Lundell.

Bringing a qualified care provider into your home can help you or your aging loved one maintain a healthy and balanced diet by preparing meals and monitoring their eating habits. American In-Home Care always refers qualified, screened, care providers that are compassionate and ready to help. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.


Source: Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D. "World Renowned Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease." Disclove.tv. Jan. 21 2015. <http://m.disclose.tv/news/World_Renowned_Heart_Surgeon_Speaks_Out_On_What_Really_Causes_Heart_Disease/113103>


Heart Health Tips: Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States, claiming the lives of over one million men and women every year, according to The Heart Foundation. That means every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart-disease related event.

This is a scary statistic, but the silver lining for heart disease is that the potential for preventing it is huge. We have probably all heard that eating right, exercising, and controlling risk factors - like smoking and high blood pressure - will help protect our hearts, but how can we truly lower your risk for heart disease?

1. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers

Smoking is a nuclear time bomb for heart disease. Not only are smokers more likely to suffer from a heart attack, they are more likely to die as a result. And of the 46 million Americans that smoke, women who smoke and take the contraceptive pill are at a particularly high risk for heart attack.

Smoking is such a high risk factor because the nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke damages the heart and cardiovascular system. So, quitting smoking is the number one way to prevent heart disease.

2. Walking every day lowers your risk by 10 percent

In a Leicester study conducted in 2014, adults age 50 and over who were at high risk of heart disease and diabetes were studied to determine the effects of increasing exercise. People who walked an additional 2,000 steps a day (about 20 minutes of lively walking) reduced their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 10 percent over the next six years.

Other than quitting smoking, regular exercise is the next best prevention method.  By doing moderate aerobic exercise five times a week for at least 30 minutes, and/or strength training three times a week for at least 20 minutes, the risk of heart disease lowers significantly.

Try starting out the month by going for 15-minute walks, three times a week. As the month progresses, amp up your walks up to 30 minutes per walk, 4 times a week. Take a friend or a dog with you for extra fun and support!

3. Consuming an extra 7 grams of fiber daily lowers your risk by 9 percent

In a recent study, British researchers found that people who ate seven more grams of dietary fiber daily had a nine percent lower risk of heart disease. Not only is eating more fiber a marker of a healthier diet, it is also good for your blood glucose, cholesterol and the gastrointestinal tract.

Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and whole grains are all good sources of fiber. For reference, one apple has about five grams of dietary fiber, and a half a cup of lentils has eight.

4. A daily glass of wine lowers your risk by 25 percent 

Research shows that drinking in moderation is heart healthy. Moderation is considered one daily drink for women, and two for men. Alcohol relaxes the blood vessels and thus reduces the blood's ability to clot, making it a useful preventative method for heart disease.

All alcohol has benefits, but wine has slightly more due to the fact that it contains antioxidants and can help boost good cholesterol while lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol.

5. Getting the flu shot reduces risk of heart attack by 36 percent for people with heart disease

People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu. For these people, getting the flu can be very serious because it puts a lot of stress on the body, which increases the chance of getting another heart attack by 36 percent.

Vaccination is the most important step in protecting against the flu. Even if you don’t see a regular doctor, you can get a flu vaccine from doctor's offices, clinics and pharmacies. Flu shots are approved for people with heart disease and other health conditions, however, don't get the nasal spray flu vaccine if you have heart disease, because its safety has not been established in people with heart disease and other serious conditions.

6. Following a Mediterranean diet lowers your risk by 30 percent

major Spanish study found that adults age 55 to 80 who ate a Mediterranean diet were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or die from heart disease over the next five years.

A Mediterranean diet consists of many productive elements, such as healthy fats (olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds), moderate consumption of wine, low consumption of red meats, and lots of high fiber foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes and fish. The major benefit of the Mediterranean diet is that it is not just one healthy element, but rather it is a healthy nutritional choice.

Making simple changes in your diet, like reducing the amount of salt and simple carbohydrates you eat, can make a big impact on your heart health. Instead of opting for a side of rice, pasta, or potatoes, go for a salad or a side of steamed veggies instead. Also try replacing the salt in your meal with fresh herbs or spices, and challenge yourself to cook at home at least 3 times a week to explore healthy cooking!

7. Make regular appointments with your doctor

Even if you aren't "sick," making regular check-ups and physicals with your doctor is important. They will be able to track your overall health, as well as your heart health specifically, and they can help you set goals based on this. Be sure to ask them lots of questions, and be up-front and honest with them about things you are experiencing. Trust your doctor's advice, and stick to your health plan that you develop with them as much as possible.

It is also important to  take all your medications as prescribed, especially cholesterol and blood pressure medications. If you notice any side effects, or are having a hard time regularly taking your medications, be sure to talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

Tools to support heart health

It is important to make a pact to yourself to make choices for a healthier lifestyle that will lower your risk for heart disease. However, it isn't always easy to make these choices on your own. Below are a few useful tools for taking control of your heart health:

We always refer credentialed, screened, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including meal preparation, diet monitoring, or starting/executing an exercise regimen, so that you can find the perfect care provider and care options for you. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free consultation to determine your in-home care needs.