Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall is the public information director of the Henry/Stark Health Departments.
Blog: Keeping your heart healthy
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By Henry Health
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Rae-Ann Tucker-Marshall
Henry-Stark Health Department
May 27, 2013 10 a.m.

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
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!

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