Healthy Habits to Prevent Heart Disease

By Julie Hasenberg

Heart Health is dear to my heart….My daughter Faith was born with aortic stenosis and had her first open-heart surgery at five weeks old.  Her second surgery (The Ross Procedure) was done when she was seven.  Another will be forthcoming in the next few years, which will entail a mechanical valve and blood thinners for the rest of her life. Many of us make choices every day that affect our heart health.  Caring for your heart through a healthy diet and regular physical activity is the secret weapon to preventing heart disease.  Remember…You have a choice with your heart health! Go Red for Women says there are seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease.

1. Get Active!  Consistent, moderate intensity of physical activity of about 150 minutes per week is recommended. Also minimum of two days/week of muscle strengthening activities as well.

2. Control Cholesterol Good fat vs bad fat!  Good fat HDL (High density Lipoprotein) shuttles the LDL (low-density protein, bad fat) out of the arteries and protects the lining of the arteries from developing plaque. Most of bad cholesterol comes from animal products. A diet in good fats can consist of avocados, olives, coconut oils, and nuts.

3.  Eat Better!! Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells which create the energy we need to thrive and fight disease. EAT FRUITS and VEGTABLES, unrefined fiber-rich whole grain foods, fish, and good fats

4. Manage Blood Pressure. Eat a heart healthy diet, manage your weight and stress.

5. Lose Weight. Too much fat, especially if it’s at your waist, equals higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

6. Reduce Blood Sugar.  Most of the food we eat turns to glucose (blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy.  Our body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take food energy into our cells.

7. Quit Smoking. At Highland Fitness we have helped hundreds lose thousands of pounds through whole food nutrition, exercise, and the guidance of an accountability coach and trainer.  Our members have lowered their blood pressure, reduced or eliminated medications for diabetes and cholesterol, and have gained energy to live abetter quality of life.

Visit! We’d love to serve you and keep your heart strong. Julie Hasenberg is the owner of Highland Fitness and Results Weight Loss, 715-833-2100

Seeing Red: Awareness of Heart Disease in Women is Important

By Susan Pope, N.P., Cardiac Center

It’s time we start seeing red.

Red — as in the color of heart disease awareness, just as pink is the color we all take notice of in regard to breast cancer.

Heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. (Yes, you read that right.) According to the American Heart Association, while one in thirty-one American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease claims the lives of one in three. That’s about one death each minute.

So make sure you’re as committed to heart disease prevention as you should be to your yearly mammogram. That means: Maintain a healthy weight. Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol at healthy levels. Stop smoking. Or better yet, don’t start. Stay physically and mentally active.

While we’re at it, here’s a quick quiz on heart disease and women. The more we know about our nation’s No. 1 killer of women, the better.

True or False: Heart disease only affects older women.

False: Heart disease affects women of all ages. The combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent in young women, the Heart Association says. Yes, our risk increases as we age. Overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle are factors that lead to blocked arteries over time. But don’t let your age lull you into a false sense of security. I take care of women of all ages in the hospital. Heart disease is an equal opportunity threat.

True or False: Heart disease only affects women who don’t take care of themselves.

False: Unfortunately, all the salads and yoga in the world can’t eliminate your heart disease risk. (If only it were true!) Family history often plays a factor. You easily can be thin and have high cholesterol.

Knowing your numbers can help. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age twenty, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. And be sure to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

True or False: I feel fine; theefore, I am fine.

False: According to the Heart Association, 64 percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.

And when women do experience symptoms, those signs often are misinterpreted. Women’s symptoms often are vague: shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Other women experience dizziness, lightheadedness, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and extreme fatigue.

You may be thinking, “Ha! I feel back pain and fatigue all the time.” I get that. I hope you’re talking to your health care provider about all your concerns. But if something feels “off,” if something feels “not right,” don’t wait. Trust your gut. Listen to your heart of hearts. Seek medical attention.

Start seeing red.

Pope is a nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire who specializes in lipid management. She also sees patients weekly at Chippewa Valley Hospital in Durand.


Five Heart Health Myths

by Millie Bruce

For women and men of all ages, heart disease is the number one killer. It kills more and more people than ALL types of tumors joined together. If you’re black or over 65, your risk of a heart attack is much higher, but it is an equal opportunity destroyer. Anyone, any place, at any time can have a heart attack [1].

Myth #1: Exclusively older adults need to be concerned about their cardiovascular system.

Lifestyle choices that can result in developing heart disease develop gradually. Being a couch-potato and over eating without exercising are common poor habits that could possibly begin in childhood years. Increasingly, healthcare providers are finding patients having strokes in their 20s and 30s, rather than patients usually in their 50s and 60s.

Simply being in shape and at the right bodyweight will not make you immune to strokes. However, both exercising regularly and maintaining an appropriate body weight helps. You’ll still want to check your bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The best cholesterol (or lipid profile) amount is less than 200. The right blood pressure level is 120/80.

Myth #2: I’d feel ill if I had high blood pressure levels or high cholesterol.

They call these, “silent killers” for the reason that they show NO symptoms. 30% of all older people have hypertension. Of those, one-third can’t say for sure they have it.

High cholesterol is a way of measuring the fats carried by your bloodstream. Fats can be dropped anywhere in your physique, but may congregate around organs, as well as your heart. This predisposition might run in families. So even if you’re at a good weight and do not smoke cigarettes, have your cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels checked constantly. One time is not adequate [2].

Myth #3: Both males and females do NOT see the same signs.

Men and women CAN have those same warning signs, but they commonly will not. Females are more inclined to have the subtler indicators and symptoms though males usually experience the form of cardiac arrest you see in the films. But, either gender CAN have any signs.

These subtler signs and symptoms, including jaw achiness, nausea or vomiting, breathlessness and extreme fatigue, have a propensity to get identified away. “My jaw hurt mainly because my lunchtime sandwich was on whole-grain bread and I had to chew very hard,” or , while clutching their stomach, “I probably should not have had that additional piece of pizza.” “Half of ladies don’t have chest pain after all,” says Kathy Magliato, a heart surgeon at California’s St. John’s Health Center. Put all the little indicators together with each other and pay attention to your entire body.

Obviously, both men and women could experience the “grab-your-chest-and-fall-down-gasping” form of cardiac event, but now you know, that’s not the only way.

Myth #4: So long as my blood sugar level is in check, being diabetic is absolutely not a heart threat.

While trying to keep your blood sugar level within a normal range (80ml-120ml) will keep you healthier and stronger, just having the added blood sugar in your body takes its toll on arterial blood vessels. You’ll need working out and good nutrtion to help control your Type II Diabetes, but don’t forget to measure your blood pressure level and cholesterol, too.

Myth #5: My health practitioner would order exams if I were at risk for heart disease.

Generally, most of us fail to inform the physician about the little spasms we feel. The medical professionals, not knowing most of the things we consider as unimportant, could pass over heart tests.

“Mammograms and Colonoscopies are routinely prescribed,” says Merdod Ghafouri, a cardiologist at Inova Fairfax Medical center in Virginia, [3] “and are important, but heart scans usually aren’t normally conducted.” A cardiac scan can diagnose plaque build-up within the arterial blood vessels before you even find out you have a problem.

Do you have the engine oil pressure and transmission liquid inspected in your auto? Have other precautionary maintenance done? Doesn’t your only heart deserve as much care as your automobile?

Links to Complementary Sources About Heart Disease:

[1] The Lansing State Journal is a local Internet news paper that discusses Michigan stories as well as days news and posts from everywhere. They talked about the entire story here

[2] The blog Cholesterol Lowering Diets is a non-profits webpage that presents free info for persons who plan to eat healthier and regulate their unhealthy cholesterol levels through diet. They present a nice guideline to assist individuals to eat healthy and lower cholesterol naturally

[3] Circulation is the department of the American Heart Association correlated to cardiovascular publication, they have a really good document in .pdf that covers the correlation between tryglicerides and cardiovascular disease

Millie Bruce (@millie_bruce on was born in Banffshire, Scotland on August 2, 1944. She had an basic diploma in Meds at the University of Glasgow in 1962. She has done nutrition counseling and has taught adult nutrition in Adult Daycare Clinics. She has worked for medical reporters and testers that have written and published reports for the New England Journal of Medicine. Currently she is retired and has been a guest writer for health related sites and blog sites.

6 Easy Steps to a Healthier Heart


1. Oatmeal Please!

Eating a breakfast high in whole grains can reduce your risk of heart troubles. Cholesterol lowering, high fiber whole grains are the key to the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. A study by the American Heart Association showed that of 10,496 adults who ate whole grains at breakfast 7 times a week were 28% less likely to develop heart failure than those who didn’t.

2. Have a banana or two.

It has been shown that potassium can regulate blood pressure and help prevent hypertension, which are two main factors in heart disease. Many of us only get ½ the potassium in our daily diets, so load up on leafy vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

3. Here Kitty, Kitty

It has been shown repeatedly that owners of cats are less likely to develop heart troubles and other cardiovascular diseases. Cats help relieve stress and anxiety. So let Mittens curl up on your chest or in your lap; it will do you both good.

4. And One and Two…

It’s a broken record I am sure we’ve all heard, but regular exercise is the key to warding off future heart issues. It’s recommended that everyone get 45 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week, which can sound like a lot, but carving out exercise time should be high on the list of priorities you have. If your time is limited, try exercising in intervals. Studies show that after 6 weeks of doing exercise intervals, members had improved their blood vessel function. Try this: quick burst of exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 1 minute recovery. Do this 5 to 8 times three times a week. Rate your intensity by how well you can talk while exercising. The burst should be almost impossible to talk, while the recovery should be easy to hold conversation.
Interval exercise also makes your workouts seem shorter because you are changing your focus during the exercise, rather than just doing one single motion for 45 minutes.

5. Sunny D Please

Vitamin D is one supplement that goes a long way in protecting us from heart disease. A study in Circulation showed that patients that had low levels of Vitamin D in their blood tests were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those with higher levels. Everyone should get their daily dosage of 1000 IU daily.

6. Rinse and Spit

Most of us just don’t remember to floss daily and sometimes it hurts afterward, which puts it on the back burner of things to do. But flossing is key in helping to keep your heart healthy. Those who have bacterial buildup, which can lead to periodontal disease, are twice as likely to have heart related issues as those who floss regularly. Your tongue is also a great place for bacteria to hide, so investing in a tongue scraper might not be a bad idea either.

Life Enhancing Omega-3s

by Dr. Jay LaGuardia

With eighteen years’ experience as a chiropractor and wellness coach, one of my core recommendations to all my patients is a daily supplementation with omega-3 fish oil for overall wellness. Recent research continues to prove that living congruently with your genetic requirements not only ensures the highest level of health and wellness, it can also help you reach and maintain your ideal body weight.

People with the highest intake of omega-3 fish oil weigh less and lose weight more easily than those deficient in omega-3s. A recent study at the University of South Australia proves that taking fish oil, combined with moderate, aerobic exercise, over 12 weeks boosted weight loss. The research determines that the fish oil activates enzymes that are responsible for burning fat. Another research study shows that a diet high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids, specifically those found in fish oil, can be protective against obesity and metabolic syndrome in children. More research reveals that ingesting fish oil helps stop the conversion of pre-fat cells to fat cells by killing pre-fat cells.

The Low-Down

Omega-3 fats are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer and many other diseases; however, not all omega-3 fats are the same. The type and the source will make a difference in the health benefits provided. There are three types if omega-3 fats:

  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
  • EPA (Eicosadentaenoic Acid)
  • ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)

Most of your health benefits associated with omega-3 fats are linked to animal-based omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, not plant-based omega-3 fats like ALA. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low ratio. Even if you eat large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert very small amounts into DHA and EPA – and only when a sufficient enzyme is present.

So hands down, DHA and EPA are the most desirable omega-3s to add to your diet, and they’re found primarily in fish. This does not mean that plant-based omega-3 fats are harmful or should be avoided. We all need them and they should be consumed as part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. My favorite way of getting them is from freshly-ground, organic flax seed, which is also a healthy water-soluble fiber. However, avoiding any animal-based fats and exclusively using plant-based omega-3s can harm you in the long run.

For Your Health

Several recent studies extol the virtues of supplementing regularly with omega-3s. Harvard University found that supplementing with omega-3s may reduce arrhythmias (which can be fatal). George Washington School of Medicine found that omega-3s decrease protein production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. “Cytokines play a role in stripping cartilage and eroding bone.” says PatienceWhite, M.D., M.A., Professor of Medicine in Pediatrics at the school. The researchers also found that those who consume EPA and DHA have fewer joints problems and decreased stiffness.

Studies in which scientists have compared fish intake across ten countries have concluded that rates of clinical depression, bi-polar disorder and postpartum depression are nearly 30 to 50 times greater in countries with low fish consumption. Omega-3s may offer good enhancing effects, even in those who are not diagnosed with mental illness. The research has observed that people with higher levels of DHA and EPA were less likely to report feeling blue, even when measured against normative range of depression symptoms. “That suggests that higher blood levels of EPA and DHA are protective against depression.” says Sarah Conglin, PhD and lead study author and Profession of Psychology at Allegany College in Pennsylvania. Conglin also states that because brain cell walls are made up of DHA and EPA, consuming more of these fats may improve brain-cell composition in neurotransmission function, which is dysfunctional in people who are clinically depressed.

Studies have made promising associations, calculating that people who eat fish two to three times a week are about half as likely to experience age-related cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Food for Thought

Some wonder if omega-3-fortified foods are a good way to get the essential oils. Many food companies now realizing that consumers are interested in bettering their health with omega-3 fats are trying to jump on the omega-3 band wagon. You can now find omega-3 fortified cereal, eggs, crackers, yogurt and even mayonnaise. C.S.P.I. is the Center for Science in Public Interest warns consumers that the vast majority of these products contain ALA which has not been linked with the same health benefits as EPA and DHA.

Long-chained fats like DHA and EPA are nearly exclusively found in marine sources like fish and fish oil. In the perfect world, fish would be a near per-fect food: high in protein, full of essential nutrients and fats. However, because of pollution, contamination, and toxicity concerns, increasing your fish intake is often discouraged. Instead, opt for a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Innate Choice. It contains the ideal ratio of omega-3s to omega-3 fats (roughly 1:1). High quality fish oils are great, but keep in mind that they’re highly perishable and can easily become rancid inside your body. Those found at retail stores can also quickly become rancid as they’ve often sat on store shelves too long. So make sure the supplement you take is high-quality, and store it in your fridge.

Well, Well, Well

Another important tip: decrease your consumption of omega-6s. Omega 6 fatty acids are a family of polysaturated fats that are found in most, if not all, of processed foods these days.  Some medical research suggests that excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids, relative to omega-3 fatty acids, may increase the probability of a number of diseases and depression.

Our ancestors lived for generations on a ration of 1:1 omega-3 fats.  Today, largely as a result of consuming far too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats, our ratio of omega-3s to -6s averages 20:1 to 50:1. This is genetically incongruent to what we need to become pure and sufficient.

When you are sufficient in what the body needs and avoid those things that are toxic, you will naturally gravitate towards health. Integrating an omega-3 supplementation into your diet is one easy, natural way to increase your overall health and wellness.

Dr. Jay LaGuardia has been practicing chiropractic for 18 years, has been the director of Stucky Chiropractic Clinic for the past 12 years, is a lecturer across the country and is one of the developers of the Living Well Series, a mind-body-spirit wellness program.