Time to get moving! by: Melissa Herbst, RehabCare

Summer is just around the corner. Are you ready to get outside and enjoy the weather?  If not, now is the time to get up and get moving. But first, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you fallen before or been injured because of a fall?
  • Do you feel weaker than you used to or do you have less strength in your arms and legs?
  • Have you stopped doing daily activities or avoided exercise because you’re afraid of falling?
  • Do you experience incontinence?
  • Has your hand strength decreased?
  • Has your eyesight diminished?
  • Do you feel dizzy when you stand up?
  • Do you have foot ulcers, bunions, hammertoes, or calluses that hurt and cause you to adjust your steps?
  • Do you feel unsteady on your feet or shuffle when you walk?

If the answer is yes, you might be at risk for a fall.  Don’t let a fall get you down this summer and prevent you from enjoying the summer season!  The outdoors may present you with new obstacles to maneuver. Please be careful when walking on wet grass, uneven surfaces, and while navigating new territory.

Environmental Factors that Contribute to a fall:

  • Poor foot wear
  • Clutter where you walk
  • Obstacles on the floor
  • Poor lighting
  • Inadequate walking devices
  • Unsafe steps or walking surfaces
  • Moveable objects on wheels
  • Unfamiliar settings
  • Lack of railings or grab bars

Individual factors that can lead to a fall:

  • Medications
  • Vision
  • Decreased strength and flexibility
  • Pain
  • Cognitive or memory issues
  • Gait disturbances
  • Medical conditions
  • Balance

How to Prevent Falls

Take Care of Yourself!

  • Know your medications
  • Check your vision and hearing regularly
  • Make sure you have shoes that fit properly
  • Exercise regularly
  • Install grab bars, nonskid mats, and use a bath bench
  • Watch doorways, rugs, and clutter
  • Rearrange furniture
  • Keep your house well lit
  • Store items on low shelves
  • Use cane or walker as needed

Tips to stay safe in the sun

  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay cool
  • Protect your eyes
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Exercise Smart
  • Know who to call

How Can Therapy Help?

Therapy can help you get moving whether it be from a wheelchair or walking!

  • Balance Assessments
  • Gait Training
  • Exercise Programs
  • Walking Devices
  • Wheelchair Mobility
  • Environmental Modifications
  • Strength/Flexibility/Coordination
  • Activities of Daily Living

For more information please contact your therapy department.

Red Oak Center for Fitness and Rehabilitation      715.386.4528

Osceola Campus  715-294-1116

Are Mom and Dad taking their Medication Correctly? ~ by: Mary Eells, CCHH Director of Operations

Thanks to many breakthroughs in medicine people diagnosed with previously non-treatable illnesses can now be maintained with oral medications.  Older people are now prescribed more medications than ever before.  Having multiple medications to take everyday day at different times can be extremely confusing to the elderly, and negative outcomes can result.

Not taking medication as prescribed by a physician properly or having medications prescribed by different physicians can cause concerns.   Patients must keep accurate lists of all medications and have good communications skills at physician appointments.

Harmful drug interactions are a common result of not managing medications properly.   Over and under-dosing is a common problem.   Recent numbers state that around 30 percent of hospital admissions of older adults are medication related.  Taking medication incorrectly can also increase the risks of falls which could lead to major injury.  There are several reasons why older adults have difficulty with medication management a few include:

  1. Physical ability concerns such as poor vision and low dexterity. Many elderly people cannot read the labels because the print is small.  Often the pills are small and get misplaced instead of taken.  Poor hand strength can make it difficult to get into bottles or use inhalers properly.   Sometimes medication is accidentally dropped and they don’t even realize it.
  2. Cognitive ability has declined and forgetting to take medication on time or not at all. Many elderly will not remember if they took the medication and take a second dose this can be very dangerous.
  3. Intentionally not taking their medication is often the result of not understanding the seriousness of their illness or they start to feel better after getting home from the hospital so they feel they no longer need it anymore. Saving money is also a common concern, so not taking the medication will save money. Or sadly they simply cannot afford the medication.

Working as an RN in the health care industry for many years I have seen numerous elderly people needing to be hospitalized due to poor management of medications.  Some of these situations were very dangerous.  Many medications are prescribed to save lives but if taken wrong can be deadly.

  • Taking too many blood thinners can cause serious bleeding situations.
  • Medication for heart failure not taken can lead to congestive heart failure rapidly. If taken to often can cause dehydration leading to weakness and injury.
  • Blood pressure medication missed can cause an increase resulting in many concerns.
  • Heart medication taken in excess amounts can lead to dangerous heart rhythms.
  • Pain management medication not taken will lead to poor pain control and if over taken excessive sleepiness or other serious concerns.

Family members can be extremely helpful by investigating medication organizer systems.  Many pharmacies provide a variety of reminder systems and medication delivery systems to help.  Often these systems will help the elderly person maintain medication management at home for a while with the help of a family member or friend.  Many family members help the elder to keep updated lists of medication and consult with physicians during visits.  The problem is that even with a medication management systems mistakes are made that can lead to hospitalization and injury.   As cognition and vision fails many things can happen so that wrong dosing will again become a problem.

The elderly living in a senior living communities could also benefit from purchasing some medication management help if the facility offers these services.  These management programs include keeping a record of the elder’s health and updating family and MD with changes.  They can offer services at the level the person needs from setting up boxes with reminders to actually delivering the giving the medication.   Older people will often resist this help due to cost but they and family need to realize this could be the best way to assist them in remaining at home and not end up with repeated hospitalizations and eventually long-term care.   Medication management has proven to be the most helpful assistance to assure the elderly can age at home as long as possible.

The cost of medication management in assisted living is only a fraction of the cost of hospital stays and nursing homes.  As a health care provider I encourage you not to assume your love one is taking medication safely.  If you are looking for more information I found several great articles by googling “Medication management for the Elderly.”

Here is one:  How do I know if mom is taking the proper dosages of her medications at the right time?

Don’t Be A Victim: Education is your best defense!

What do you have in store for your retirement?

My retirement will consist of me waking up each morning, making myself a cup of coffee, and relaxing out on my beautiful deck that overlooks the woods with my two hound dogs… or will it?

You may have planned a relaxing retirement or one filled with monthly vacations and lots of exciting experiences, but what happens when you or your significant other fall and break a hip? What if one of you come home one day from a doctor’s appointment diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s? Are you prepared for that? Or are you going to be another victim?

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

What does your insurance actually cover? Find out! It would behoove you to find out what your insurance actually covers. Medicare A does NOT pay for long-term care. However, if you qualify, it may pay for your short-term rehabilitation. Do you have a supplemental to cover the daily copay of your short-term rehabilitation? If you don’t know, I urge you to find out. Stop by or call your Aging and Disability Resource Center; they have individuals who can help you understand your insurance plan. Maybe you have Medicare Advantage… that is a whole different ballgame.

Does your wife have Alzheimer’s? Who’s going to care for her? Not you, you’re too weak. Maybe your daughter can care for her?  No, she really needs to keep her job to maintain her own medical insurance or maybe she just got the promotion she worked so hard for. She has her own life. So now it’s an emergency and your wife needs to get into an assisted living with memory care ASAP. She’s not on a waiting list… because this was never going to happen. Do you have an extra $2,000 to $5,000/month for assisted living expenses? If not, you can just spend down all your liquid assets and sign up for medical assistance. Don’t worry about the farm you were going to give to Bobby… that’s now going to be the states.

Why am I urging you to take action? So many times I find myself speaking with families and/or residents who are shocked that their insurance does not cover long-term care. Did you know the average monthly cost of a skilled nursing home stay is around $8,500? Did you purchase that long-term care insurance in 1962? Does it only cover $100/day? Again, I urge you to find out. Most likely that long-term care insurance policy won’t even pay for half of your stay.

Don’t be the victim. Educate yourself! Then plan your defense!

April is OT Month!

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. Occupational therapy practitioners ensure that people recovering from illness or injury, or with a disability, can function in all their environments with the ability they have. They reduce health care costs by promoting independence and self-care.

Common occupational therapy interventions in a skilled nursing facility include helping people recovering from injury or illness to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • Training in self care skills
  • Training in the use of adaptive equipment
  • Exploring adaptations and developing compensatory techniques
  • Environmental modifications
  • Addressing behavioral and mental Issues
  • Training in functional mobility and community reintegration
  • Assessing posture, positioning, and wheelchair seating
  • Training in exercise and pain reduction in order to complete daily activities

Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.

 2017 marks an important year for occupational therapy: We will celebrate 100 years of the profession!

 OT Throughout the Years

The founders of Occupation Therapy 1917 .

Gardening as Occupational Therapy during WWI 

 

 Learning how to use a prosthetic arm in the 1050’s


Using adaptive equipment during daily living tasks

Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants help individuals across the lifespan, live independently as possible in the following areas:

    • Bathing, showering
    • Toileting and toilet hygiene
    • Dressing
    • Feeding
    • Functional mobility/transfers
    • Personal device care
    • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
    • Care of others
    • Care of pets
    • Child rearing
    • Communication management
    • Driving and community mobility
    • Financial management
    • Health management and maintenance
    • Home establishment and managements
    • Meal preparation and cleanup
    • Medication management
    • Religious and spiritual activities and expression
    • Safety and emergency maintenance
    • Shopping
  • Rest and sleep
    • Rest
    • Sleep preparation
    • Sleep participation
  • Education
  • Work
    • Employment interests and pursuits
    • Employment seeking and acquisition
    • Job performance
    • Retirement preparation and adjustment
    • Volunteer exploration
    • Volunteer participation
  • Play
    • Play exploration
    • Play participation
  • Leisure
    • Leisure exploration
    • Leisure participation
  • Social participation
    • Community
    • Family
    • Peer, friend

For any questions please contact us:

CCH of Hudson Red Oak Center  Rehabcare Occupational Therapy Team

715-386-4528

  • DeAnna Carey, OTR
  • Nikki Kauffmann, OTR
  • Mary Ellen Smith, COTA

CCH of Osceola  Rehabcare Occupational Therapy Team

715-294-1116

  • Rachel Hall, OTR
  • Denise Suennen, OTR
  • Heather Ross, COTA

Resources: The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Is your egg empty? ~ by: Kathy O’Connell, WinterGreen Housing Director

My mind was wandering as I sat bedside holding my sister-in-law’s hand.   It was after midnight and my husband, my other sister-in-law and I had settled into holding vigil for her for the night.  As I sat there I was reminded of “The Empty Egg” story.   Perhaps you’ve heard it before.  If not, you can get the full story on line.  I will try to condense it for you here.

This story talks about Jeremy, a physically handicapped and mentally challenged 12 year-old boy who was in the 2nd grade.  His teacher was frustrated with him because he would squirm in his seat, make grunting noises and distract the other students.  It sounds like she was at the end of her rope and even had approached his parents to see if they would look into other options for schooling.

A few months later, as spring was arriving, the excited children began telling the teacher about their anticipation of Easter coming.  The teacher began telling the story of Jesus and emphasized the idea of new life springing forth.  She gave each of them a large plastic egg, “Now I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that represents new life,” she told her class.

The next day the children placed their eggs in a basket on her desk.  She picked up the first egg, opened it and found a flower.  “Oh yes, a flower certainly is a sign of new life,” she said.  “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.”  A small girl in the first row waved her arm, “That’s my egg”.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.  Yes, that is new life too.” the teacher said.  A small boy raised his hand, “That’s my egg.”

Then the teacher opened another egg.  She gasped when she saw the egg was empty.  Realizing that it was Jeremy’s egg, assuming he didn’t understand the assignment, she didn’t want to embarrass him so she set the egg aside and reached for a different egg.

Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up, “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered she replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.”  “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too.” he said.

Then she asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”  “Oh yes,” Jeremy excitedly replied, “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then His Father raised Him up.”

The recess bell then rang and the children ran outside.  Miss Miller sat in her seat and all of the frustration she felt towards Jeremy suddenly melted away.

Three months later, Jeremy passed away.  Those who went to pay their respect at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket…..all of them empty.

As I reflected on this story, my mind kept focusing on the vision of the empty egg.  It was empty. Like the tomb.  So simply, Jeremy had explained the whole Easter story with an empty plastic egg.  “His Father raised Him up” he had said.

When my sister-in-law passed, my mind immediately came back to the empty egg story.  I thanked God for my sister-in-law.  I thanked God for Easter.  I thanked Him for the empty tomb.  For without it, where would our hope lie?

I plan on placing an empty egg amongst the flowers at the celebration of life service this week.  How fitting that this is also Holy Week.  Some may look at it and think it strange that somebody left behind an empty plastic egg.  Others may realize what it symbolizes, thanks to Jeremy’s story.

How about you?  Is the egg empty?

Hallelujah!

Peace.

Joy.

Hope.

Happy Easter from ALL of us at CCHS!

What is Caregiver Burnout? ~ by: Michelle Bee, CCHS Social Worker

In my years as a Nursing Home Social Worker, I have seen a lot of caregiver burnout.  I have seen family members come into the nursing home to move their loved one in and just sit down and cry for hours because they feel that they are just “giving up” on their parent, sibling, and/or friend.  I have also seen the complete opposite.  I have seen a few caregivers come to the nursing home and dropped off their loved on the curb with their belongings and not come back for a long period of time.  Caregiver burnout affects everyone differently and everyone deals with it the only way that they know how.  Caregiver burnout occurs when a caregiver tries to do more than they are able to and does not get the help they need.

Caregiver burnout can portray itself in many different forms, but can be similar to the symptoms of stress and/or depression.  The symptoms that I have seen most often are:

  • Withdrawal
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and /or weight
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to harm self or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional/Physical exhaustion
  • Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Feelings of helplessness

Being a primary caregiver for someone can be very draining on your own health.  It is a big job that most people do not take lightly.  Most caregivers “jump right in” to the job because they know that the person they are caring for is dependent on them for their health and well-being.  Caregivers often experience burnout because they are so busy carrying for others that they neglect their own emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Some tips to prevent caregiver burnout are:

  • Get moving. Physical activity, in any form, can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.  Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help.  The hardest part of exercising each day is getting started.  Tell yourself that you are just going to exercise for 10 minutes, once you have increased your heart rate, it is easier to keep moving.
  • Find time for yourself. Respite care provides caregivers with a temporary rest from caregiving, while the patient continues to receive the care that is needed.  Go to a movie, have lunch with a friend, get a pedicure, etc.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Practice yoga, visualization (mentally picturing a place or situation that is peaceful and calm), meditation (dedicating a few minutes a day to let go of all stressful thoughts), breathing exercises (slowing your breathing and focusing on taking deep breaths).
  • Take care of yourself. Visit your doctor regularly, exercise and get plenty of rest.
  • Make legal and financial plans. Putting legal and financial plans in place can provide comfort to the entire family.  Many documents can be prepared without the help of an attorney.  You can contact the Social Services department at CCH to assist you with these documents (if we cannot help you, we may refer you to an Elder Law Attorney).
  • Find support. Look for local support groups.  A great resource is your county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). 

So, you can see there are many different ways caregiver burnout can effect people. I hope this information will help you recognize that you personally need to take time for yourself OR if you see someone or know of someone taking care of a loved one you may be able to help them out.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at:

michelle.bee@cchhudson.org

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Northwest Wisconsin:
Serving Polk County, Burnett County
and the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30a.m.-4:30p.m.
100 Polk County Plaza, #60, Balsam Lake, WI | 7410 County Rd. K, #180, Siren, WI
877-485-2372 | adrc@co.polk.wi.us

St. Croix County ADRC contact information:

Website:  www.sccwi.us/adrc             Phone:  1-800-372-2333

E-mail:  adrcinfo@co.saint-croix.wi.us

What is Diabete’s? ~ by: Melissa Herbst, RehabCare

Diabetes is…

  • A serious disease that affects how your body uses blood sugar (glucose) for energy
  • Glucose is VITAL to your health!
  • Body does not produce or properly
    use insulin
Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Usually diagnosed in children and young adults

Type 2 Diabetes (Adult-onset)

  • Most common
  • Most often diagnosed in adults
  • Preventable through diet and exercise

Gestational Diabetes

  • Appears for the first time during pregnancy
  • Puts one at risk for type 2 diabetes later in life
How Insulin works

Insulin: Hormone created in the pancreas

  • Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream
  • When blood sugar levels drop, the amount of insulin secreted from your pancreas drops
The Role of Glucose
  • A sugar used as a source of energy for cells in your body that makes up muscles and tissues
  • Comes from 2 major sources: liver and food


Signs and symptoms of Diabetes
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slow healing cuts and bruises
Statistics about Diabetes
  • In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, 9.3% of the population had diabetes  (8.1 million who did not know)
  • 9% or 11.8 million seniors in the US who are 65 years and older have diabetes
  • ~1.7 million new people are diagnosed/yearly
  • In 2010, diabetes was ranked the 7th leading cause of death in the United States; 69, 071 cases listed as the cause of death.
Who is at Risk?
  • Those who are overweight
  • Family history
  • You are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • Had a baby more than 9 pounds or had gestational diabetes
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • You have high triglycerides
Diabetes Complications
  • Heart Disease and Stroke
    • Heart disease and stroke account for about 65% of deaths in people with diabetes
    • The risk for stroke and death from heart disease is 2-4x higher among people with diabetes
  • Nerve Damage
    • Cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward
  • Amputations
    • More than 60% of lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes
    • In 2004, about 71,000 lower-limb amputations were performed in people with Blindness
    • Diabetic retinopathy causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year
    • Making diabetes the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age
  • Eye Damage ~ Can damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to blindness.
Beat Diabetes!                               
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Manage Medications
  • Schedule yearly physicals
  • Pay attention to your feet
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
  • Take care of your teeth
Prevent Complications

Manage the ABCs of Diabetes

  • A stands for A1C (a measure of average blood glucose)
  • B stands for Blood Pressure
  • C stands for Cholesterol

Your Therapy Team Can Help

  • Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy
    • Medication Management
    • Healthy Meal Prep and Cooking
    • Establishing Healthy Daily Routines
    • Exercise
  • Physical Therapy
    • Develop Exercise Programs
    • Reduce pain
    • Prevent Falls

Contact your Therapy Team 

715.386.4528 Hudson  or 715.294.1116 Osceola

Resources

1.800.DIABETES

American Diabetes Association

It’s all in the “P” ~ by: Jennie Orman, Hudson Director of Nursing

I’m sure you were curious about the title of this blog…and that’s good I’m glad you decided to come check it out. The information I’m about to talk about is not always a fun topic. If I would have titled it UTI’s and Confusion;  9 out of 10 of you would have passed it by. Please don’t! This information can be helpful when young and old are not feeling up to par! So please keep reading…

Here goes… A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be uncomfortable and unpleasant for anyone, but the elderly can often display non-physical signs and symptoms of UTIs.  UTI’s are the second most  common type of infection in adults, and left untreated can lead to more serious health issues, such as sepsis.   The elderly are more prone to UTIs as their immune system is often weaker.  Bladder control issues also increase the risk for developing a UTI.

Common symptoms of UTI (for non-elderly adults):

  • New onset of frequent and strong urge to urinate
  • Pain and/or burning during urination
  • Flank/side pain
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Fever (not always seen in elderly)
  • Pressure in pelvis

The elderly population may not display all or any of these symptoms.  Symptoms of UTI for the elderly include:

  • Change in behavior
  • Agitation
  • Increased, or new onset confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Change in motor skills; difficulty completing daily tasks.
  • Dizziness
  • Falling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of UTIs in elderly are also misread as early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If you or someone you know is having these symptoms, they need to be seen by a doctor.  The doctor will most likely have the person give a urine sample.  The doctor may then choose to start an antibiotic immediately, or they may wait for the results of the urinalysis and culture.  If someone is being treated for a UTI and the symptoms are not improving after 48 hours, the doctor should be contacted as a different antibiotic may need to be ordered.

There are steps that can be taken to decrease your likelihood of developing a UTI:

  • Drink lots of fluids (2-4 quarts/day)
  • Always wipe front to back after urinating (most UTI’s are caused by e. coli bacteria found in feces)
  • Change under garments daily (more frequently if issues with bladder control)
  • Wear cotton undergarments
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they are bladder irritants.
  • Take showers instead of baths.

Hopefully you were able to take a few new things with you from this blog. It’s not an exciting topic but defiantly and important one when trying to figure whats going on with a loved one.

Traditional Medications & Complementary Modalities ~ by: Heather Malpert, RehabCare

Common Medications Prescribed

Drugs that may have memory impairment side effects:

  1. Antianxiety drugs
  2. Cholesterol drugs
  3. Antiseizure drugs
  4. Antidepressant drug
  5. Narcotic painkillers
  6. Parkinson’s drugs
  7. Hypertension drugs
  8. Sleeping aids
  9. Incontinence drugs
  10. Antihistamines

Want to learn more…check these out!

Ask the Pharmacist: 10 Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss. 

5 Common Prescription Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Complementary Modalities:

  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) comprise a variety of healing approaches, philosophies, and therapies
  • Generally used in addition to conventional mainstream treatment

Types of CAM:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy **
  • Meditation
  • Movement therapy **
  • Pilates **
  • Yoga **
  • Tai Chi **
  • Qi Gong **
  • Spinal manipulation **
  • Relaxation techniques **
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Therapeutic Touch **
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Aromatherapy **

**Incorporated as a part of therapy plan of care for their patients in order to treat the whole person

More good info… Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?

Our Therapy Teams

  • Christian Community Home in Hudson: (715) 386-4528
  • Christian Community Home in Osceola: (715) 294-1116

Healthy + Fit + You = Now ~ by: Sheryl Rust, RDN ~ CCHS Campus Dietitian

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States. Nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, or an unhealthy diet. Risk also increases with age.

The good news is that 80% of heart disease may be prevented through lifestyle changes while managing medical conditions.

RISK FACTORS THAT CAN BE MANAGED: You can control or treat these risk factors with lifestyle changes and your healthcare provider’s help:

  • | High blood pressure
  • | Smoking
  • | High blood cholesterol
  • | Lack of regular activity
  • | Obesity or overweight
  • | Diabetes

RISK FACTORS YOU CAN’T CONTROL: You can’t change these factors:

Knowing your numbers is important! The American Heart Association recommends that you be aware of five key numbers: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).

These numbers  have several unique things in common: any person can make these changes, the steps are not expensive, and they are linked to the foods you eat.  Even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Start with one or two.

1. MANAGE BLOOD PRESSURE

When Blood Pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, which keeps you healthier longer. 120/80 is normal blood pressure.

While there is no cure, blood pressure is manageable and preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet low in salt, saturated fats, cholesterol and alcohol. Physical activity and weight loss are also key factors in lowering your numbers.

2. CONTROL CHOLESTEROL

High Cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog Arteries and lead to Heart Disease and Stroke. When you control your Cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Check with your doctor for your goals.

An active lifestyle, a diet low in carbohydrates, not smoking, a healthy weight and decreasing alcohol can lower total cholesterol levels while leading to lower LDL and higher HDL levels.

3. REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR

Getting too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of heart disease.

Most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. That’s more than three times the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of added sugar.

Decrease regular soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruity drinks, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, sweetened milk.

4. GET ACTIVE

There are many types of physical activity that can improve your cholesterol levels, lower your blood pressure and simply make you feel good. It can be as simple as walking briskly for 10- 30 minutes a day. It all adds up.

Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.

5. EAT BETTER

The message has not changed. A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting Cardiovascular Disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!

Use these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for heart healthy eating. Check out the recommended foods list and the daily sample menu.   

6. LOSE WEIGHT

When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. Check out some other benefits of a healthy Body Max Index (BMI) below:

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Greater lifestyle independence and easier daily activities
  • Better regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on your heart and circulatory system
  • Better sleep patterns
  • More effective metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers

To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. One pound equals 3,500 calories.  To successfully and healthfully lose weight—and keep it off—most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week. Click here to find if your weight is in a healthy range using a BMI calculator

7.  STOP SMOKING

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease. It may surprise you  that smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

Begin a healthy lifestyle journey now that positively impacts the way you look and feel, inside and out! Prevention is key to changing outcomes!

References:

Go Red for Women (www.goredforwomen.org)

The American Heart Association (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/)

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org/)

WebMD (www.webmd.com/)