Wellness Words February 2018

Wellness Words February 2018

HealthLink Littauer’sAlicia DeRuscio-Head


Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.

Community Education Assistant


February Is American Heart Month

It’s the perfect time to learn about the importance of heart health and take the necessary steps to prevent heart disease. One of the main risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure, also called hypertension.  The American Heart Association notes that nearly half of Americans over the age of 20 have high blood pressure and don’t know it.  Having high blood pressure is dangerous and can lead to heart attack or stroke.  Therefore, it’s important to know your numbers and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

What is blood pressure?

According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is the force of blood that pushes against your blood vessel walls, and it is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). When you have your blood pressure checked, it is written as two numbers, such as 110/70 mm Hg.  The top number is your systolic number, which refers to the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats.  The bottom number is your diastolic number, which refers to the pressure in your arteries when the heart is at rest.  Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.

What is high blood pressure?

The American Heart Association defines a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher as high blood pressure. If your systolic number, or top number, is 120 – 129, and your diastolic number, or bottom number, is less than 80, this is considered “elevated” blood pressure.

What are the risk factors for high blood pressure?

Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. Some of these risk factors are controllable, and some are not.

The risk factors you can control include:

  • Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High cholesterol
  • Consuming an unhealthy diet
  • Being physically inactive

The risk factors you cannot control or change include:

  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Increasing age
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

How do you determine if you have high blood pressure?

In order to determine whether or not you have high blood pressure, you must get it checked regularly by your physician or healthcare provider.

Are there steps I can take to manage or control my high blood pressure?

Yes! If you have high blood pressure, follow these tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume a diet that is filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products while minimizing intake of saturated fats and trans fats
  • Decrease your salt intake! Try to consume less than 1,500 mg of salt a day
  • Choose foods that are rich in potassium
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Get active! The AHA recommends getting at least 90 to 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity each day, as well as performing resistance or weight training activities three times per week
  • Take your medications as prescribed by your provider
  • Educate yourself – know what your blood pressure should be and work to achieve those numbers

If you would like to learn more, attend a special program on ‘Healthy Hearts’ presented by Nicole Higgins R.P.A., of Littauer’s Primary Care Services, on February 28 in Littauer’s Auditorium.

You are invited to join us for a buffet-style luncheon at 11:30 for $6 or attend the presentation only at 12 noon at no charge. To attend, call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120 or email healthlink@nlh.org.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

Wellness Words February 2017

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator


Are You At Risk For Heart Disease?

February is National Heart month. According to the National Institutes of Health, every 34 seconds someone in the U.S. suffers a heart attack. Women account for nearly half of all heart attack deaths. Over a lifetime, heart disease kills 5 times as many women as breast cancer.

But what is a heart attack, exactly? A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is interrupted, usually due to a blood clot blocking blood flow in a coronary artery, one of the vessels that feeds blood to a part of the heart muscle. This blockage causes the heart muscle to be starved of oxygen and nutrients. When damage to part of the cardiac muscle happens, a heart attack occurs.

It is no secret that heart attacks can be fatal. However, every year thousands of Americans survive and go on to enjoy their lives. According to the American Heart Association, knowing your risks for heart disease is the first step in taking control of your heart health. Some risk factors can’t be controlled. However, many can.

Risks that cannot be controlled include:

  • Age: As we age our risk of heart attack and stroke increases.
  • Genetics: If anyone in your biologic family has had a heart attack your risk of having one is increased.
  • Gender: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both genders. Women tend to have their first heart attack 10 years later than men. However, women are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after a heart attack.

Risks that can be controlled include:

  • High Blood Pressure: This is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Blood pressure can be managed with lifestyle changes such as, weight loss, physical activity and healthy diet. Medication may also be needed.
  • Smoking: Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease. However, your risk is cut in half within a year of not smoking.
  • Lack of Physical Activity: People who get regular exercise decrease their risk of heart disease by 35-40%.
  • Being Overweight: If you are overweight, reducing your weight by just 10-20 pounds can significantly reduce your risks.
  • Poor Diet: A diet high in saturated and trans-fats, sugar and sodium (salt) increase your risk for heart disease significantly. Cutting down on processed foods and reading labels to increase your awareness of these ingredients will help you to reduce your risks.
  • Diabetes: This condition doubles your risk of heart disease. Keeping your glucose levels under control and managing your other risks can help to lower your risks of heart disease and stroke.

While heart disease remains a leading cause of death and disability, by becoming aware of and managing your risk factors, you can significantly reduce your chances of heart disease.

HealthLink Littauer can assist you in managing these risk factors with numerous low-impact exercise classes, monthly health screenings, stress management programs and activities, smoking cessation, nutrition education, and more. Remember, your heart health is in your hands!

For more information, contact the American Heart Association at 518-626-8760 or www.heart.org, or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.