7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. That’s why in this post I share 7 keys to a healthy heart.

February is Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, so let’s explore the heart and how we can keep ours healthy.

First, I suggest reviewing a previous post  about the HEART’S  anatomy and how it works.

diagram of the human heart
Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

At  this post we looked at ways the HEART can “break”.

7 important forms of HEART DISEASE.

  1. Congenital heart disease (problems present at birth)
  2. Cardiomyopathy- disease of the heart muscle
  3. Coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction ( heart attack)- the most common cause of death in the United States
  4. Congestive heart failure
  5. Sudden cardiac death
  6. Arrhythmia-irregular heart beats
  7. Hypertension- high blood pressure
EKG tracing
In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

Now we’ll look at protecting our HEARTS from disease, disability and death. 

7 important risk factors for heart disease 

  1. smoking
  2. hypertension
  3. excess body weight
  4. sedentary lifestyle, too little physical activity
  5. high blood fats (cholesterol)
  6. high blood sugar (glucose)
  7. poor nutrition
complications of high blood pressure

There are other risk factors that cannot be changed. These include

  • Gender– unfortunately males are somewhat more at risk, especially at younger ages.
  • Age– our risk increases as our age does.
  • Ethnicity– some ethnic groups have a higher risk. In the United States these are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics.
  • Family history– This means a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease young, or less than 50 years old.

Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. Here are

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart-Watercress Words.com

7 symptoms that may indicate a heart problem

  1. Chest pain– this is probably the most recognized heart disease symptoms, but is not unique to heart disease, nor is it always found in heart disease.
  2. Shortness of breath– especially if it occurs with minimal exertion, or if you find you have less tolerance for exertion.
  3. Palpitations– this means feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too hard, or at irregular intervals.
  4. Fatigue- especially if out of proportion to physical activity, if you tire more easily or quickly, or seem to have less energy than in the past
  5. Unexplained weight gain or swelling in the feet and legs
  6. Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing or walking, especially after exertion.
  7. Syncope, the medical term for fainting or passing out, especially if no other obvious cause (some people know they faint at the sight of blood, or with certain smells; that form of fainting is usually harmless, unless injured from falling)

How to keep your heart healthy

Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the first 7 risk factors I mentioned, what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.

  1. Stop smoking– consider these  7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
  2. Control your weight– achieve  and stay at a healthy weight.6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope
  3. Be screened for diabetes and high cholesterol; if found, manage with your doctor’s supervision .10 Silent Signs of Diabetes
  4. Get more active, do some physical activity on a regular basis.Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup
  5. Eat less junk food,make healthier food choices. Learn easy ways to shop healthier from the American Heart Association
  6. Have your blood pressure checked regularly (ask your doctor how often). If you have hypertension,  follow your doctor’s management plan, which may include medication. Learn more from FamilyDoctor.org 
  7. Control and manage stress. Medical studies suggest that emotional stress can bring on cardiovascular disease. You can learn more from Dr. James Marroquin’s fascinating post.

I’m using Aaptiv to help keep my heart fit.

This affiliate also helps support this blog. If you use it I earn a small commission. Thank you for considering this and my other affiliates. 

always exploring the HEART of heart health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Please share this post on you social sites, your friends will thank you for caring about their hearts.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

5 steps to manage stress and strain

Many health issues would resolve or be easier to manage if life stressors would just go away. Three fourths of the patients treated by primary care physicians have problems aggravated by emotional, social, or behavioral issues.

As a college graduation gift, I gave a friend’s son a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble Bookseller. He earned a  mechanical engineering degree  and will work as a rocket structural engineer.

He sent me a nice handwritten thank you note (which few people do these days) and said he plans to use it to buy a book that other structural engineers recommend. The book is Roark’s Formulas for Stress and Strain.

Roark's Formulas for Stress and Strain- a book

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a formula for handling the stress and strain of life?

Many health issues would resolve or be easier to manage if life stressors would just go away.  Three fourths of the patients treated by primary care physicians have problems aggravated by  emotional, social, or behavioral issues.

Life’s  interruptions and disruptions won’t disappear, but you can make them less of a strain on your time, energy, and resources. There’s usually no quick fix but 5 steps can lessen their impact.

I learned the value of these steps when I dealt with the stress of a foot fracture that required surgery to correct it, and a longer convalescence than I expected. For someone who is used to being active, the prolonged inactivity stressed me both physically and emotionally. These 5 steps were already a part of my life, but consciously choosing them helped me cope with what would otherwise cause frustration and sadness.

5 steps to manage life’s stress and strain

 

1. Create and maintain a routine and schedule.

Having a plan for your time helps you feel more in control of your life.  Resist the tendency to become socially isolated or avoid activities you usually enjoy. 

a smartphone lying on a calendar page with a planner and cup of coffee
from Lightstock.com (affiliate) stock photo site

Times of crisis, loss, or illness may leave you feeling disconnected and adrift, but having a schedule provides structure and connection. When you are busy, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. 

 

 

 

2. Recognizing and reaching out to social supports

Your family and friends are your first line of  support during times of stress and duress. It’s nice if we don’t have to ask for their support, but their lives are busy too, so don’t be hesitant to ask for help if you need it. If they don’t call you, call them.

2 women talking over coffee with open bibles
Conversation over coffee can be therapeutic. graphic from the Lightstock collection( affiliate link)

Other sources for help include your healthcare professionals;  don’t be embarrassed to share that you need social and emotional support. Your doctor can help you identify and get connected with community resources.

Look for help from your or your spouse’s job, your religious community, organizations you belong to, your school, and online resources for support- educational sites, forums, support groups.  Although not as personal as face to face support, these are helpful  if  you are  geographically isolated or mobility is difficult.

 

 

3. Reframe by refocusing on the positive rather than the negative.

Recognizing and emphasizing the positive in life makes the problems less overwhelming and distressing. Look for something to be grateful for, or that brings a little joy into your day. It may be as simple as flowers blooming in your yard, your favorite tea and sweet,  a funny story in a magazine.  

balloons-get well IMG_2269.jpg
Balloons are nice, too.

Remembering and observing happy events, occasions, and celebrations can also be sources of renewed joy.

Norma, a woman facing terminal illness, reframed her crisis by finding joy in small things, like jigsaw puzzles, new foods, and a “good perm”. Read more about her at

Driving Miss Norma- a book review
Driving Miss Norma - a book cover

 

 

 

4. Stay active mentally and physically

Physical activity doesn’t have to be a chore, boring, or expensive. Many things can be done at home or in your neighborhood-walking, bicycling, cardio, yoga. If exercise isn’t your thing, try dancing, gardening, swimming. 

If your  physical mobility is limited,  try something stimulating mentally-sewing, crafts, games, puzzles, writing, cooking are just a few possibilities.

checkerboard

 

Consider a fitness app on your phone like Aaptiv, at this affiliate link (commission to blog if you use)

 

 

5. Nurture your inner self

woman with hands bowed in prayer

Sometimes we need to withdraw from outward activities and stimulation for times of quiet rest and reflection.

You may  find help from mindfulness, meditation, prayer, devotional reading, music, journaling,  or a combination of these approaches.

Breathing exercises can lessen anxiousness and tension.

I use the breathing exercises on the Aaptiv Fitness app to relax and unwind after a long day.


These affiliate links may help you deal with stress and strain. (At no extra cost to you, purchases through this link help me fund this blog.)

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
(When you sign up through these links, I can earn free books too.)

Join my Reader Rewards Club
READ.REVIEW.REDEEM myReader rewards club

As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

RoboForm Password Manager.

You’re likely reading this post on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, so you visit sites that require a password. How do you remember them all? You don’t have to if you use RoboForm Password Manager.

My husband introduced me to RoboForm years ago and I am glad he did. I have used it continually to remember my passwords so I don’t have to. It syncs to both my computer and my phone so my passwords are always available. It will even generate passwords for me.

Go to this link to try RoboForm Free; if you like it you can upgrade to RoboForm Everywhere version with all the features I mentioned above. With Roboform, you will have one less thing to feel stressed about.

Help with tech stress

If computer problems cause you stress, you may find help at my husband’s tech blog. He’s a computer guy with years of professional experience that he’s now sharing at

techsavvy.life

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Life lessons from Team USA

Winners have positive attitudes in all elements of their lives. The more you think about, talk about, and write about a thing happening, the greater the certainty of that thing happening.

Did you know Team USA is not  a government organization or agency? According to the United States Olympic Committee  (USOC) website, Team USA is

“a federally chartered nonprofit corporation and does not receive federal financial support (other than for select Paralympic military programs). Unlike most other nations, the United States does not have a sports ministry.”

“The USOC has two primary responsibilities in its oversight of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States.

  1. to generate resources in support of its mission, which is to help American athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence.
  2. to ensure organizational resources are wisely and effectively used to that end.”

A visit to Team USA in Colorado Springs

I toured the United States Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both Olympic and Paralympic athletes train and live here.The facilities are state of the art, modern and open to the public for visits and tours.

In this post I’m sharing my tour with you.

The Ancient Olympic GAmes sign
brief history of the Olympic Games

As much as I admire the elite athletes who comprise the Olympic team, the Paralympic athletes captivate my imagination.

These athletes  compete with, not  despite, significant physical impairments. Many of them play and compete in physically demanding sports without full use of their arms and legs; some don’t even have all of their arms and legs.

Lessons for sports and life

As we walked around the complex on a guided tour, I was reminded of the importance of physical activity for our physical and mental health.  Although there is a lot of conflicting advice on preventive health, all experts agree that physical activity is vital to achieving and maintaining optimal health and well being.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for

moderate-intensive physical activity for 150 minutes or more per week,

vigorous-intensity activity for at least 75 minutes per week, or

an equivalent combination of the 2, and

engaging in muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

  • Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.
  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, uterus, prostate and pancreas.
  • Regular exercise may help prevent diabetes and heart disease.
  • Exercise relieves joint and back pain due to arthritis.
  • Depression is improved with physical activity .

As we walked through the  USA Shooting area I picked up a flyer titled “Winning Attitudes”, which I’m using as captions for  my photos. I hope they will encourage you to develop a “winning attitude” in all areas of your life.

Enjoy this brief tour through the Olympic Complex and if you go to Colorado Springs, be sure and visit; the cost is reasonable and worth the price.

lesson 1

Become excited, confident, and enthusiastic about your goals.

statue of four athletes jumping

lesson 2

True confidence is based on the thoroughness of preparation. 

Olympic work out room

lesson 3

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream.

lesson 4

Winners focus on solutions, not problems.

wheelchairs
wheelchairs adapted for playing

lesson 5

Winners have positive attitudes in all elements of their lives. The more you think about, talk about, and write about a thing happening, the greater the certainty of that thing happening.

vehicle
on display in the Hall of Fame

lesson 6

Goals should identify minimum performance levels. They should never limit your performance.

swimming pool
a real “olympic sized” swimming pool

lesson 7

Real winners are champions in life, not just in sports.

two champion athletes
Runner Tyson Gay and gymnast Mary Lou Retton in the Hall of Fame

lesson 8

Missing a goal means setting another goal to strive for.

gym
multi use gymnasium

lesson 9

A champion constantly learns and improves.

practice
words to train by and live by

lesson 10

Champions are willing to risk a little in the short run to gain an advantage in the long run.

lesson 11

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream. 

lesson 12

Excellence is achieved only through constant pursuit. 

DSCN1135
passing the torch

lesson 13

A champion constantly learns and improves .

housing.
The athletes live, eat, and sleep here.

lesson 14

Real winners are champions in life, not just sports. 

statue of four athletes raising arms

lesson 15

Don’t just achieve your goals; strive to exceed your goals. 

bronze statue, ice skater

 Are YOU a CHAMPION? 

Which of these “winning attitudes” do you live by? Which do you need to adopt?

sharing the HEART of a champion

Thanks for visiting this blog and taking a “Tuesday Travel” with me. I hope you’ll explore further before you leave.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Here are some affiliate links you may find helpful. Thanks for considering.

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                              Dr. Aletha 

From Colorado Springs to Rio -the Olympic Games in Tuesday Travels

Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Gameswere held in Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil .

I visited the United States Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both Olympic and Paralympic athletes train and live here.The facilities are state of the art, modern and open to the public for visits and tours.

Keep reading, or visit the updated version of this post at this link.

Life lessons from Team USA

The Ancient Olympic GAmes sign
brief history of the Olympic Games

As much as I admire the elite athletes who comprise the Olympic team, the Paralympic athletes captivate my imagination.

These are athletes who compete with, not necessarily despite, significant physical impairments; but to call them “disabled” does them an injustice. Many of them play and compete in physically demanding sports without full use of their arms and legs; some don’t even have all of their arms and legs.

As we walked around the complex on a guided tour, I was reminded of the importance of physical activity for our physical and mental health, and made a note to remind you too.  Almost no one will disagree with the recommendation to include and increase physical activity in our daily lives.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for

moderate-intensive physical activity for 150 minutes or more per week,

vigorous-intensity activity for at least 75 minutes per week, or

an equivalent combination of the 2, and

engaging in muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

  • Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.
  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, uterus, prostate and pancreas.
  • Regular exercise may help prevent diabetes and heart disease.
  • Exercise can relieve joint and back pain due to arthritis.
  • Depression is treated with physical activity successfully

As we walked through the  USA Shooting area I picked up a flyer titled “Winning Attitudes”. I liked what it said so I am using some of the ideas to illustrate my photos. I hope they will encourage you to develop a “winning attitude” in all areas of your life.

Enjoy this brief tour through the Olympic Complex and if you go to Colorado Springs, be sure and visit; the cost is reasonable and worth the price.

Become excited, confident, and enthusiastic about your goals.

statue of four athletes jumping

True confidence is based on the thoroughness of preparation. 

Olympic work out room

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream.

“Olympic Strength” statue- four athletes supporting the world with a figure skater beside them

Winners focus on solutions, not problems.

wheelchairs
wheelchairs adapted for playing

Winners have positive attitudes in all elements of their lives. The more you think about, talk about, and write about a thing happening, the greater the certainty of that thing happening.

vehicle
on display in the Hall of Fame

Goals should identify minimum performance levels. They should never limit your performance.

swimming pool
a real “olympic sized” swimming pool

Real winners are champions in life, not just in sports.

two champion athletes
Runner Tyson Gay and gymnast Mary Lou Retton in the Hall of Fame

Missing a goal means setting another goal to strive for.

gym
multi use gymnasium

A champion constantly learns and improves.

practice
words to train by and live by

C

Champions are willing to risk a little in the short run to gain an advantage in the long run.

2 athletes
2 athletes hard at work

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream. 

be a champion.
I may not be a competitive athlete, but I will stay as active as possible as long as possible.
man standing next to hockey players
Look out Raymond!

A champion constantly learns and improves .

DSCN1135
passing the torch

Excellence is achieved only through constant pursuit. 

housing.
The athletes live, eat, and sleep here.

Real winners are champions in life, not just sports. 

statue of four athletes raising arms

Are YOU a CHAMPION? 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup

I watched the final game of the Women’s World Cup between Japan and the United States.  Tuning in a few minutes late I was stunned to see I  missed the first 2 goals! Believe me, I paid attention the rest of the game and was not disappointed. I admired the skill, talent and energy of both teams and with other Americans cheered the United States team’s victory  clinching the world champion title 5-2.

Besides enjoying the action I was more impressed by  the class and grace demonstrated by both teams as winners and as losers. That is the greatest lesson we can teach children and I hope parents used that as a “teachable moment”.

2015-07-06 08.02.56

I observed the superb fitness level of these and the other participants in the World Cup. Running up and down a field , kicking a ball and outmaneuvering opponents for 90 minutes is exhausting, but they made it look almost easy.  We can’t all be world class athletes  but we can be physically active in some way.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 

  • moderate-intensive physical activity for 150 minutes or more per week

  • vigorous-intensity activity for at least 75 minutes per week

  • engaging in muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

 

Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.

  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, uterus, prostate and pancreas.

  • Regular exercise may help prevent diabetes and heart disease.

  • Exercise can relieve joint and back pain due to arthritis.

  • Depression is treated with physical activity successfully

 

With proper guidance, anyone can perform some exercise or other physical activity regularly. I stay active with walking, bicycling, ballroom dancing, gardening and have recently tried yoga

 

ballroom dancing
dancing in a competition with my pro instructor

I have more energy and stamina when I am active regularly, and get sluggish if I don’t.

What do you do to stay active, fit and moving? please share and encourage someone else.

More information here

Physical Activity Basics from the CDC