Posts Tagged ‘Risk Factors’

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





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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Whether it’s a 3-day weekend, a week-long or a multi-week vacation, the time away from the daily grind can be beneficial to your health.  You’ll be amazed in the benefits of a little away time to recharge and retool. Even when you’re doing what you love, you can’t do it 24/7. Everyone needs a break.  Time awaycreates a healthier, more productive, recharged individual.

According to Karen Matthews of Mind Body Center at the University of Pittsburgh, taking time away from work and routine allows the body to replenish and repair itself, as quoted on npr.com. The center surveyed 1,399 participants recruited for studies on cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and other conditions, and found that leisure activities, including taking vacations, contributed to higher positive emotional levels and less depression among the participants. Other benefits include lower blood pressure and smaller waistlines, reports npr.com. Women especially seem to benefit from taking vacations, according to a 2005 study conducted by Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal and reported on medicalnewstoday.com. Women who vacationed less often than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression and increased stress than women who took vacations at least twice a year.

A vacation is a great time to relax, stop and reflect (clear your mind), gaze at scenery, read a good book and recharge.  A vacation gives you the freedom to have fun doing what you want.  You don’t have to wake up at a certain time or follow a strict schedule.

To maximize the value of your vacation, your time away should have a mental and physical effect to create an afterglow, it should inspire you to form healthful new habits or it should enable you to bolster ties with family or friends.  According to Expedia.com, 53 percent of people say they came back from a vacation feeling more reconnected with their family and friends.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to travel far for your vacation. Many people take a vacation in their own town. Check out some of the tourist attractions in your own city that you might have forgotten about.  If you pick the right vacation for you, you will be able to fully enjoy and look forward to a great time ahead.

Vacation days are a precious commodity on many levels.  They allow you to spend quality time with your family, give you a mental and physical break from the daily grind, and help you get back in touch with some of the basic tenets of a life well lived.


http://newsalescoach.com/2011/07/value-of-vacation-rest-read-recharge-retool/  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/true-value-staycation-214658652.html http://traveltips.usatoday.com/benefits-taking-vacation-1755.npr.com: Brenda Wilson, Relax! Vacations Are Good For Your Health http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/33386.php

Writer:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County or http://perry.osu.edu

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The Sun.  We need it for light, to grow our food, and any other number of reasons.  And really, what’s better than a warm summer day sitting outside drinking lemonade?  However, like everything, there’s always a point of too much of a good thing.  Protecting yourself against the sun’s rays is a must.  With skin cancer being so prevalent it is important to be aware of what is involved with sun safety.  The following are the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) ABC’S of sun safety.

A – Stay AWAY from midday sun.  This is the time of the day when the sun’s rays are at their most powerful.  This occurs between the hours of 10am to 3pm.  Although this is the time of day when many people are out and about, whether at work, running errands, or children playing outside, it is important to avoid exposure to these harsh rays.

BBLOCK the sun’s rays by using sunscreen while outdoors.  Sunscreen should have a SPF or Sun Protection Factor of at least 15.  The higher the SPF the more protection you have against the sun’s rays.  Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours and after activities where you are sweating and/or swimming.  Children as young as 6 months of age should be wearing sunscreen.

CCOVER UP when out in the sun.  You can do this in a variety of ways such as wearing clothes made with tightly woven fabric, wide brim hats (that cover both the neck and ears), and sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays.  This is crucial especially if you work outside and are exposed to the sun.

S – Find some SHADE.  If you are exposed to sun, especially for long periods of time, take a break in the shade.  Also, keep infants under 6 months of age out of direct sunlight.  Use an umbrella over the stroller.

By following the tips above you will increase your chances for a happy and healthy summer.

Source: www.aad.org

Author: Dana Brown, FCS Extension Educator, OSU Extension – Morrow County

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Just last month another group of lawmakers proposed a bill to eliminate trans-fats from grade-school lunches. Why do trans-fats continue to be used when all you have heard is bad?
Synthetic trans-fats raise you “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and increase your triglycerides. Thus, these synthetic trans-fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. An increase in just an extra two percent of calories from synthetic trans-fats per day increases your risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent. In a 2006 Harvard study on women those that ate the most synthetic trans-fats were more than three times more likely to develop heart disease than those who ate the least amount. Another 2006 Harvard study found that an increase in synthetic trans-fats showed an increase in weight during an eight year study. It has also been associated with inflammation and a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
There are two kinds of trans-fats, natural and synthetic (manufactured). Natural trans-fats are found in certain meat and milk products in small amounts. Researchers are not sure whether these natural trans-fats have the same bad effects as synthetic trans-fats. Health advocates are not suggesting you avoid or limit these natural trans-fats.
Synthetic trans-fats are inexpensive to produce, easy to use, and will last a long time on the shelf. Synthetic trans-fats give food a good taste and texture. Restaurants like trans-fats as they can be used multiple times, especially for frying foods. Trans-fats are made by adding hydrogen atoms to liquid oil, like vegetable oil. On the ingredients label they are listed as partially hydrogenated oils. They are used in many food products including pastries, pie crust, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarine and shortenings. Fried foods such as French fries and doughnuts usually contain synthetic trans-fats.
Experts are agreeing that no amounts of synthetic trans-fats are safe to consume. We need to avoid or at least limit them. So how do you find them? The Nutrition Facts label on food can provide part of the information. Trans-fats do appear on the label, but the government allows the manufacturers to claim 0 trans-fats if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of fat. If you want to avoid trans-fat completely you need to look at the ingredient label of the food and see if “partially hydrogenated” is listed. These key words identify synthetic trans-fats in food. You want to be sure to limit your consumption of trans-fats to less than one percent of your total calories per day. If you consume 2000 calories a day that would be eating less than 2 grams of trans-fats a day.
When shopping look at the ingredients of the food if “partially hydrogenated oil or shortening” is listed try to find a similar food that does not include the words “partially hydrogenated.” Check the ingredients on the foods listed above and pot pies, and microwave popcorn.
When cooking at home use oil preferably olive, canola, or vegetable oils. Limit or avoid use of shortenings and stick margarines unless trans-fat free.
Being choosy now can lower your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and possibly, type 2 diabetes.
American Heart Association, [2011]. Trans Fats, Downloaded on 2/26/12 from

Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats, University of Harvard, Downloaded on 2/26/2012 from

Mayo Clinic staff, [5-6-2011]. Trans Fats are double trouble for Your Heart Health , Mayo Clinic
Downloaded on 2/26/12 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032

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Some research on the consumption of energy drinks on youth and their effects have been released. These indicate the need to educate our youth about energy drinks.

Question:  Most energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.  Caffeine has been thoroughly tested and deemed to be safe for adults by the U.S. Food and Drug Association along with many countries around the world.  Energy drinks can provide a temporary energy boost due to the amount of caffeine in them. For most people an occasional energy drink is fine.  However, consider why you need them.  You are better and healthier getting your energy by having adequate sleep, being physically active, and eating a healthy diet.

Caution:  Too much caffeine can lead to nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heart beat, increased blood pressure.  Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can blunt the feeling of intoxication which can lead to more alcohol-related injuries.

Recent research on the effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents and youth adults have showed some serious adverse effects such as seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavioral disorders can a occur.  Many energy drinks are high in calories which can also increase the risk of obesity.

Many parents may think that energy drinks are equivalent to soda or sports drinks.  But soda can’t contain more than 71 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces, and energy drinks do not have any limits.   Some energy drinks are higher than 300 milligrams of caffeine in 8.4 ounces.

Germany has reported that outcomes linked to consumption of energy drinks by tweens and teens have included liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory disorders, agitation, seizures, psychotic conditions, high blood pressure, heart failure and disruptions of heart rhythms, among others.  Energy drinks do not have any therapeutic benefits and may put some youth at higher risk for serious health problems.  No safe levels of consumption of caffeine have been established for children, adolescents and young adults.

Stop:  Many energy drinks also contain other substances including guarana which contains caffeine.  However, manufacturers are not required to list the caffeine from other ingredients including guarana on their label.  Thus, the actual caffeine dose in an energy drink can be higher than what is listed on the label.

According to Dr. John P. Higgins, assistant professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, energy drinks may be especially dangerous during sports.  Caffeine may interfere with coronary flow reserve, which may contribute to heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms in athletes.  When caffeine is mixed with taurine (commonly found in energy drinks) it makes the heart pound harder.

Advertising of many drinks seem geared to youth. Help your child understand that they don’t need energy drinks, and they will be healthier without them.

DO THIS:  Encourage children, youth, and young adults to drink water and low-fat milk. These are good drinks to choose any time and also during physical activity.

References:  Center for Science in the Public Interest, [2009], Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs; Goodman, B. [2011]. Report Finds Energy Drinks Risky for Kids at http://children.webmd.com/news/20110214/report-finds-energy-drinks-are-risky-for-kids ; Mayo Clinic, [2010] Energy Drinks:  Do they really boost energy?at  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/energy-drinks/AN01303 ;  Seifert, S. Schaechter, J., Hershorin, E., and Lipshultz, S. [2011]. Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults, Pediatrics online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/127/3/511?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Energy+Drinks&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT

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Did you know that women are 6 times as likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer? 

Heart diease kills more women over 65 than do all cancers combined. 

The symptoms of heart disease in women can be different and may trick the woman into thinking it is not serious.   These symptoms are not always as severe for women and we may ignore them.  You may have heard of a woman who had neck & shoulder pain that wouldn’t quit so she drove herself to the ER.   Women are more likely than men to have signs and sypmtoms unrelated to chest pain.  Heart Attack Symptoms for Women may include:

  • Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Unusual fatigue

**** Remember to call 911 if you have syptoms.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  Do NOT drive yourself to the emergency room. 


  • Eat a diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol & salt
  • Eat more fruits & vegetables
  • Get regular health screenings including Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels
  • Exercise 30-60 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products

If you are having any of the symptoms, discuss this with your doctor.  Even if you think they are mild, it is important to tell your doctor about your concerns. 

2011 is right around the corner— this is a great time to set a healthy living goal.  If you don’t know your cholesterol numbers, find out.  If you need a physical exam, now is the time to schedule the visit.  Set a goal to eat more fruits & veggies.  Start a physical activity you enjoy.  If you’ve always wanted to stop smoking, make 2011 the year. 

Remember that it is easiest to change one health habit at a time.  Give yourself time to adjust to the new habit and continue working to improve your lifestyle.  Make it fun and a family activity.  Everyone will benefit from a few simple changes.  Make today the beginning of a new journey as you start on the road to health!!

Source:  Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease

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