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Health Dept. offers heart healthy suggestions


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Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2013, 2:18 pm
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Press release submitted by RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall


"HEALTH DEPARTMENT OFFERS HEART HEALTHY SUGGESTIONS"

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments staff announces that February has been designated American Heart Month. In accordance with this important health observance we note that there is good news about heart disease - the number one killer - and that is that a healthy heart is within everyone's reach. You already know some of the rules: Consume less fat. Eat fruits and vegetables. Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.

The Department reminds area residents that if you don't know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers; they have services that can help you see where you stand. The Department conducts free blood pressure checks during clinic working hours at their main office location in Kewanee.

In addition, fasting blood profiles can be obtained by appointment at their office locations. The fasting blood profiles offer the opportunity to receive indepth Chem Screen/CBC basic blood profiles, a thyroid panel, and for men (50 +) the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test.

The Health Department staff notes that there are more ways to boost heart health, including some you probably didn't know:

DON'T SKIP BREAKFAST. Fact: Most heart attacks occur between 7am and noon - possibly because the cells that help blood to clot, called platelets, are stickiest then. Eating breakfast appears to make platelets less sticky...and less likely to clump together and block a vital artery.

CUT SWEETS. Sugar is not directly related to heart disease. But cutting back on limits empty calories in your diet and helps leave room for heart-friendly fiber and nutrients.

MEET THE "Bs." You may have heard about the "antioxidants" - vitamins C, E, and beta carotene - which appear to slow plaque formation in the arteries. Now there's evidence that folic acid, a B vitamin, and vitamins B6 and B12 may help prevent heart attacks. You'll get all three "Bs" from a balanced diet.

LIGHTEN UP. People who overreact to stressful situations appear more likely to have heart trouble. Example: In one study, people whose blood pressure and heart rate jumped the most during frustrating tests were also most likely to have reduced blood flow to the heart.

ASK ABOUT ASPIRIN. Aspirin has been shown to protect the heart by preventing clot formation. But don't start taking aspirin regularly without your doctor's approval. Besides its many side effects - like stomach irritation - long-term aspirin use may present other potential dangers, like risk of bleeding to the brain.

QUIT SMOKING IF YOU DO. Smoking doesn't just affect your lungs. Fact is, you'll cut your risk of heart attack by 50-70% within five years if you quit. Amazing: At that point, ex-smokers have about the same risk of heart attack as people who never smoked.

GET OFF THE COUCH. Sedentary living - not high cholesterol - is the single biggest factor in heart attack deaths. But you don't have to run marathons. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity three times a week delivers the benefits of regular exercise. So walk briskly. Climb stairs. Play actively with kids. Live longer!

For more information on Health Departments' heart-friendly programs and services call Department at (309) 852-0197 (Henry) and (309) 852-3115 (Stark) or visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments.
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