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two hands with mittens holding a heart-shaped snowball
What comes to mind when you think of February? For many, it’s Valentine’s Day, others may think of a dreaded month of winter weather. Some may know February as Black History Month. Still others, like me, may think of American Heart Month. While all of these are accurate, one is nearer and dearer to my heart, pun intended.

You see, at the end of my junior year of high school, my dad had his first heart-related incident two days after his 37th birthday. He had to have angioplasty for a blocked artery. A month or so later, my dad’s brother John had to have open-heart surgery ON his birthday. My dad had already lost his oldest brother to a massive heart attack. Uncle Bill was in his forties when he collapsed after coming home from work. My dad’s brother Jim had suffered a heart attack and had a couple of heart procedure in subsequent years as well. My dad had another angioplasty when I was a freshman in college.

My dad attended cardiac rehabilitation after both of his angioplasties. The first time, I attended some of his sessions since I was out of school for the summer. While attending Ohio University, I learned about a program that would enable me to work in cardiac rehab. I never realized this was something I would be able to do without becoming a physician. I completed the program and was fortunate to find a position right away working for a cardiologist who had cardiac rehab as part of his practice. I worked there for 5 years before taking a position in a hospital cardiac and pulmonary rehab facility.

My dad had his first open-heart surgery shortly after he turned 44. Yes, you read that right. My dad’s oldest living brother Bob, had open heart surgery a couple months later the same year. My dad had his second open-heart surgery 2 days prior to his 57th birthday, which he celebrated in the hospital. A month or so prior to this, my uncle by marriage had to have a stent. He attended cardiac rehab at the hospital where I was working. When my dad had his second open-heart surgery, he started cardiac rehab 2 weeks after his surgery because he was recovering so well and my uncle was able to drive him. This was an interesting experience for me. The person who had always taken care of me, was now in my care. It was also a relief because I knew he was getting the best of care.

My dad will turn 67 at the end of May. I am happy to say that he is doing fairly well. He finally quit smoking once and for all. Yes, he quit each time he had a heart event, but he eventually started back. He takes his medications as directed. Stress is really not an issue for him. He could stand to be more active and eat a little better, both of which would help his weight. Overall, everything considered, he is fortunate. I am also happy to report that I turned 46 in August and I have no signs or symptoms of any heart-related conditions.

As you may have figured out, heart disease is very near and dear to me. I obviously learned at a young age that I have a strong family history. So, I have taken steps to try to help reduce my risk for developing heart disease. While we hear about all sorts of other diseases and conditions, heart disease has been and still remains the number one killer of men AND women in the United States. So, if you have not been taking the best care of your heart, it’s not too late to start. What better month than February to begin?!

10 Things You May Not Know About Heart Disease [Infographic]

Written by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Photos:

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/heart-facts-infographic

https://pixabay.com/en/heart-snowball-gloves-winter-hands-1416344/

Sources:

American Heart Association, (2019). Found at: https://www.heart.org/

American Heart Association, (2019). Cardiovascular disease affects nearly half of American adults, statistics show. Found at: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/01/31/cardiovascular-diseases-affect-nearly-half-of-american-adults-statistics-show

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2015). Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits. Found at: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/healthy_living.htm

CNN Staff, (2019).  Meet the man who created Black History Month. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/01/us/history-of-black-history-month-trnd/index.html

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, (2013). Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-lifestyle-changes

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Learn more about heart disease. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month/learn-more-about-heart-disease

Office of Women’s Health, (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-disease-and-stroke

 

 

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This past week it seems as though Fall has arrived in full force. The cooler temperatures, shorter days, changing leaves, and farmers working in the fields into the wee hours of the night signals Fall is here to stay. With the arrival of Fall, many think of football, pumpkins, bon fires, sweaters, as well as the upcoming holiday season. One of the most important, and often overlooked aspects of Fall, is the flu vaccine and remaining healthy throughout the holidays and into Spring.

Having worked in healthcare for over 22 years prior to joining ExteTeddy bear with tissues, thermometer, and cough medicinension, I would never think of NOT getting my flu shot. I witnessed first-hand some of the serious consequences of the flu, especially in those who are at high risk for contracting it. I consider my health to be better than average, but many of the people I interact or come into contact with may be at increased risk. The CDC considers the following groups to be at high risk for flu complications:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old;
  • People 65 and older;
  • People with asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions;
  • People with blood, kidney, liver, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, including diabetes mellitus;
  • People who have a weakened immune system due to disease or medication;
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The CDC also suggests these reasons to get a flu shot:

  • Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu illnesses and reduce the risk of flu hospitalization, ICU admission and even death in children.
  • Flu vaccine also is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes).
  • In addition to helping to protect pregnant woman from flu illness and hospitalization, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy has been shown to help protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, before he or she is old enough to be vaccinated.
  • A 2017 study showed that flu vaccine can be life-saving in children.
  • Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick. (For example a 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.)

Most of us probably know someone who is skeptical about getting a flu shot. The CDC has listed some of the misconceptions people may have about the flu and the flu vaccine. So, if the millions of people who are hospitalized each year with complications related to the flu are not enough to convince you or those you know and love, perhaps knowing the facts about the flu and the flu shot will.

Written by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Amy Meehan, MPH, Healthy People Program Specialist

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control (9/24/18). Vaccination Remains Your Best Flu Protection. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/flu/index.html

Centers for Disease Control (9/25/18). Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.html

Centers for Disease Control (10/2/18). Seasonal Flu Shot. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm

https://pixabay.com/en/allergy-cold-disease-flu-girl-18656/

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picture of natural honey in jar

As we celebrate National Honey Month in September, consider the many uses of this natural product. There are cave paintings from Spain from 6,000 B.C. showing that we have long used honey as a source of food. Honey, especially in the raw form is also known as being a superfood. So really, what’s not to celebrate?

Honey is a natural substance that’s produced when bees collect flower nectar.  A bee must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey. That nectar is eventually broken down into simple sugar forms that are then stored within the bee’s honeycomb. Luckily for us, bees make more honey than needed within the hive, so we’re able to harvest some for use.

The four most popular forms of honey include liquid, comb, crystallized, and whipped. Liquid is the most commonly found form in households, but the others work great as well depending on what texture you want and how it will be used. There are more than 300 unique varieties of honey found within the U.S.  The most common varieties are wildflower, clover, orange blossom, and blueberry.

Honey is versatile, varied and delicious.

As a reminder, don’t give honey to children under 1 year of age. It may have trace amounts of botulism that will make them sick as their digestive systems are not developed enough.

Although we think of honey as a natural sweetener, you can add it to a variety of dishes, including savory ones. The National Honey Board has recipes for dishes at every meal on their website. For example, here is a recipe for a delicious  side dish of honey citrus glazed carrots.

Honey is a pretty spectacular food, and we have the busy bees to thank for it. If you keep honey sealed, and don’t let water get into it, honey has a very long shelf life. So “bee” sure to occasionally include it into your cooking and see what all the buzz is about!

Written by:  Hannah Roberto, University of Cincinnati intern, BS Dietetics.,

Revised by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.honey.com/about-honey

https://www.honey.com/recipe/honey-citrus-glazed-carrots

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life-1218690/

http://www.handhhoney.com/hh-bee-blog/bee-facts/

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/ss/slideshow-all-about-honey

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trekking

Experts recommend that that one should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. Although physical activity offers many benefits, there are also inherent risks such as developing knee, hip, and joint problems. If you walk on a regular basis, you might consider purchasing a trekking pole or two. Trekking poles are commonly used by hikers and backpackers to support their weight, improve balance, and lesson the stress on knees and joints. You can use one or two, but two will offer you the most benefits in terms of balance and stability.

Consider the many benefits of Trekking poles:

  • The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
  • Walking poles improve balance and stability.
  • Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
  • Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.
  • Walking with poles may improve your mood.

Tips on purchasing trekking poles:

  • Trekking poles can be purchased fairly cheap at stores that sell sporting goods or camping/ outdoor equipment and range from $15-100 a piece.
  • Most are adjustable for height and for packing, or if you are going up (shorten) and down (lengthen) hills. The poles often come with rubber caps on the end that can grab pavement.
  • Consumers can choose among cork, foam, or rubber grips.  Each type of grip has its advantages and disadvantages, but cork might be most preferable for average walking.
  • Poles that have wrist straps and shock absorbers are best for relieving stress on knees, hips and other joints.
  • Most poles are made from aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are cheaper but are more prone to bending under stress.
  • Poles also have an adjustable locking mechanism, with some that twist to adjust and others that use a lever lock.

Using Trekking poles

Poles should be adjusted so that the elbow is bent to around a 90 degree angle on a flat surface. Wrist straps should be used to ensure balance and stability. There are several YouTube videos that provide instruction on use. For some activities and styles (hikes with rock climbing), Trekking poles may not be the best option.

References:

Physical Activity Basics. Then Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on 6/12/18 at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

Could walking poles help me get more out of my daily walk? Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/walking-poles/faq-20057943

How to Choose the Best Trekking Polls. Outdoor Gear Lab. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-trekking-poles/buying-advice

Author: Dan Remley, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

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When talking about grilling safety, I usually think about food safety – cooking foods to safe temperatures to prevent food borne illness, proper handling before and after cooking, etc.  However, two weeks ago, I stepped out onto my patio when I noticed a large cloud of smoke in the sky. As I looked around, I watched as a home in my neighborhood went up in flames. The quickness and intensity of the fire was overwhelming.  

Luckily, no one was hurt, but the brand new home that the family had only lived in two months, was a total loss.

The cause of this fire?  Grilling in the garage!  I’ve seen people pull their grill into the garage to avoid rain drops but I don’t think anyone in our neighborhood will ever do that again. This gave a new meaning to me for the term grilling safety.

How can you protect your family from this type of loss?

The National Fire Prevention Association provides a great fact sheet with safety tips when grilling. 

Tips from them and others include: 

·         All BBQ grills should be used only outdoors.

·         The grill should not be placed near any part of the home, deck railings. Place it at least 10 feet from any structure.

·         Never grill inside a garage or carport.

·         Keep it clear of eaves and overhanging branches from nearby trees.

·         Keep the grill clean – remove grease buildup from the grills and trays below the grills.

·         Never leave your grill unattended.

·         Do not attempt to move a hot grill.  

There are also safety tips specific to the type of grill you are using. 

·         For a gas grill, check the gas tank for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

·         Always make sure the lid is open before lighting it.

·         For charcoal grills, use care when starting the coals. If using starter fluid, use only one made specifically for lighting charcoal.

·         Keep the lighter fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

·         When you finish grilling, cool the coals completely before safely disposing of them in a metal container. 

In addition to these tips, it is a good idea to keep a spray bottle of water close and also a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it! A fire can grow quickly and you won’t have time to read instructions if that happens.  

I really enjoy grilling out  in the summer with family and friends. I know that I will not forget these safety tips and hope that you keep them in mind the next time you fire up your grill. 

Sources: 

Grilling Safety, National Fire Prevention Association. (2016) https://www.nfpa.org//-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/Grilling_safety_Tips.ashx 

AgriLife Extension experts offer tips on grilling, food safety (July 2016), https://today.agrilife.org/2016/07/25/agrilife-extension-experts-offer-tips-on-grilling-food-safety/ 

Tips for summer grilling safety, (2015) http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/news/2015/tips-for-summer-grilling-safety 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu 

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It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy, or several, for people to start talking about an issue. With the recent celebrity suicides, one can hardly go through the day without seeing or hearing something about mental health or suicide. While these losses of life are tragic, the fact that the media and ordinary people are talking about mental health and suicide is a step in the right direction.

mental-health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming nearly 45,000 lives. It was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In the same year, there were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress can contribute to one’s risk. Government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, the media and community organizations working together is important for preventing suicide.

The CDC suggests that states and communities can:

  • Identify and support people at risk of suicide.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.
  • Promote safe and supportive environments. This includes safely storing medications and firearms to reduce access among people at risk.
  • Offer activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone.
  • Connect people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare.
  • Expand options for temporary help for those struggling to make ends meet.
  • Prevent future risk of suicide among those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

My job involves helping to meet the needs of the people in my county and my state. Reducing the stigma related to mental health is one thing I have been promoting. I work in an area where mental health services can be few and far between and where the stigma associated with seeking treatment is still quite prevalent. Many people view mental health issues as being a weakness of character or will instead of the medical issue that it is. One of the ways I have been promoting mental health awareness is by teaching Mental Health First Aid.R

Mental Health First AidR gives you the tools and knowledge to assist someone having a mental health emergency much like regular first aid or CPR do for a medical emergency. You are not expected to diagnose or treat someone with a mental health issue; just as you would not be expected to perform surgery on someone you have given first aid. Mental Health First AidR also encourages people to pay attention to the words they use when talking about mental health issues. Since language can be very powerful, when we use nonjudgmental words, a person with a mental health issue or someone thinking about suicide is more likely to reach out for help.

If you would like more information on how you can become a mental health first aider, you can search for a course near you at: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/.

 

Author: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County; harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Candace J. Heer, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Morrow County; heer.7@osu.edu

 

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/mental-health-wellness-psychology-2019924/

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (May 2018). Suicide. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June 7, 2018). Suicide rising across the U.S. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

National Council for Behavioral Health (2018). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/

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The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

WRITTEN BY: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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