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Your heart works hard for you nonstop for your whole life. So show it some TLC.  Making small changes in your habits can make a real difference to your ticker. Below are 10 helpful tips to better your heart health, but best thing is, you don't have to work on all 10 steps at once. Even if you improve just one or two of these areas, you can make yourself less likely to get heart disease. Of course, the more tips on this list you follow, the better.

1.       Aim for lucky number seven.

In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.

2.   Keep the pressure off.

If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue.  Cut back on salt, limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks a day, favor healthy eating habits (think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein) manage your stress, and work out. These changes are often enough to bring your blood pressure back down into the normal range. If not, your doctor might recommend you also take medication.

3.  Slash saturated fats.

To help your heart’s arteries, cut down on saturated fats, which are mainly found in meat and full-fat dairy products. Choose leaner cuts and reduced-fat options. 

4.  Find out if you have diabetes.

Millions of people do and don’t know it. That’s risky because over time, high blood sugar damages arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease.  One simple swap is to trade processed carbs (like white rice) for fiber-rich whole grains (like brown rice). Every positive change you make in what you eat and how active you are will help. Over time, you’ll be able to do more.

5. Move more.

To keep it simple, you can aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. That includes any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a slight sweat.  “If you're doing nothing, do something. And if you're doing something, do more," Lloyd-Jones says.  Also, pay attention to how much time you spend seated, whether it's at work, in your car, or on your couch at home. You want to cut that time down.

6.   Clean up.

Your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. That means lots of whole, plant-based foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and fewer refined or processed foods (like white bread, pasta, crackers, and cookies).  One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice, which lacks the fiber that’s in actual fruit.

7. Think beyond the scale.

Ask your doctor if your weight is OK. If you have some pounds to lose, it’s not just about calories and exercise but think if there are events or stressors that trigger bad eating habits.

8.   Ditch the cigarettes, real and electronic.

No new news, smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for your heart.

9.   Do more of what you love.

Make it a point, too, to spend time with people you’re close to. Talk, laugh, confide, and enjoy each other. It’s good for your emotional health and your heart.

10.   Celebrate every step.

Making changes like these takes time and effort. Think progress, not perfection. And reward yourself for every positive step you take. Ask your friends and family to support you and join in, too. Your heart’s future will be better for it!

Additional heart healthy over the counter items are on sale the entire month of February.  See the reverse side for heart healthy savings.  For additional information, contact the pharmacy or your physician.

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Are you one of those guys who can’t remember the last time you stepped foot in a doctor’s office? Sure, maybe you’ve gotten in for something urgent, but what about scheduling an annual exam or screening tests? Maybe you simply forget, think you already have healthy habits, or insist that you “feel just fine.” Sorry, guys…. Not quite good enough.

Regular checkups and screening tests aren’t something you can afford to ignore. Baseline tests can help your doctor know how your health is changing over time. Plus, silent killers such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol can wreak havoc—and you wouldn’t have a clue without being tested.

Here’s a simple screening cheat sheet to make your life easier.

 

1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you have ever smoked, get this ultrasound test one time between ages 65 and 75. This test will show whether or not your largest artery (abdominal aorta) is bulging. If it is, it may burst, putting you at risk for bleeding—and even death.

 

2. Blood pressure. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

 

3. Cholesterol. From age 20 to 34, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. At age 35, get a regular cholesterol test. Ask your doctor how often you need to do this.

 

4. Colorectal cancer. Get screened for colorectal cancer from age 50 to 75. This screening may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 

5. Depression. Ask your doctor about being screened for depression if over the past weeks:

·         You have felt sad or hopeless

·         You have lost interest or pleasure in doing the things you normally enjoy

 

6. Diabetes. Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.

 

7. Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Get screened once if you:

·         Were born between 1945 and 1965.

·         Have ever injected drugs.

·         Received a blood transfusion before 1992.

 

8. Lung cancer. Ask your doctor whether or not to be screened if you:

·         Are between 55 and 80.

·         Have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs smoked per day times the number of years you smoked.)

·         Smoke now or quit within the past 15 years.

 

9. Overweight and obesity. This is a test you can do yourself. Find your body mass index (BMI) by entering your weight and height into an online BMI calculator.

Discuss with your doctor whether you are at increased risk for any other diseases. If so, you may need other tests.

Be honest with your health care provider and me. Be sure to let us know what worries you—whether it’s your weight, alcohol use, or challenges with anxiety. Think of us as your partners in health. We can do a much better job of helping you if we fully understand your health challenges and concerns.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

1.      AHRQ: Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy-men.html  Accessed 5-4-16.

2.      OWH: Screening tests for men. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/screening-tests-and-vaccines/screening-tests-for-men/ Accessed 5-4-16.

 

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May is the month when many women celebrate Mother’s Day. Maybe breakfast in bed, homemade cards, extra hugs….? It’s pretty wonderful to feel so cared for. But how well do you take care of yourself—whether or not you’re a mother?

                One big piece of self-care involves regular screening tests, which can prevent many health problems—or help you nip them in the bud as early as possible. Life can get hectic, though, so it’s easy to forget or to put it off. Here is a brief overview of the tests the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends for women. Remember: these are guidelines only. Talk with your doctor about your unique needs.

1. Blood pressure test. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

2. Bone mineral density test.

·         At age 50, ask your doctor if you are at risk for bone disease (osteoporosis).

·         At age 65 or older, have at least one bone mineral density test. Ask your doctor whether you need repeat testing.

3. Breast cancer screening.

·         At age 40, discuss your risk with your doctor to decide if you need regular mammograms.

·         Starting at age 50, have a mammogram every 2 years.

·         At age 75, ask your doctor whether or not you need to be screened.

4. Cervical cancer screening.

·         Starting at age 21, get a Pap test every 3 years if you have a cervix.

·         Starting at age 30, you can get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.

·         At age 65 or older, ask your doctor whether or not you need a Pap test.

5. Cholesterol test. Starting at age 20, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor how often to do this.

6. Colorectal cancer screening. From age 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. This may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 7. Diabetes screening.

Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.


 
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