Go Red for Women in February!

The American Heart Association, for the past nine years, has been promoting the GO Red for Women Campaign to make women aware of their risks for heart attacks (cardiac arrest).  I not only support this as a female Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) but also as some who works with cardiac arrest patients, the more people know their risks and how to stay healthy, the more empowered they are to actually BE healthy! Approximately 8.6 women die annually, worldwide, from heart attacks; that is a lot of women who may have not known the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and gone for help too late, or not at all. Show your support on Feb 1st 2013 by wearing red and spreading the knowledge to other women in your life about the signs of heart attacks in women (which can differ from men) as heart attack is the highest rate of death among women.  Knowledge is power and can save your life!



What are signs and symptoms of heart attack (cardiac arrest) in women?

– Fullness or pressure in your chest (may come and go and feel like a gas bubble or indigestion)

– Nausea and/or vomiting

– Sweating

– Jaw pain: may resemble that of temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain

– Light-headedness, feeling of faintness

– Chest pain that may come and go, and not be extremely painful, but more annoying.

Most women do not get the typical left arm pain that radiates into their chests, as men typically do.  Women tend to come into the hospital later on in their heart attack than men because they just think they are feeling unwell with a cold/flu, very run down, but really they are in the early stages of their cardiac arrest…so there is more cardiac damage done by the time women come in for care.

What do I do if I think I’m having a heart attack?

–  Call 911 (or emergency services)

– If someone is with you, and you know where a local hospital is, have them take you, but only if they are able to drive safely (If they are super stressed and freaking out, it might be safer for you to sit tight and call for Emergency Services)

And I totally know that it is easier said than done, but try to stay calm, and relax as much as possible. There are many options for quick and efficient treatment, and people live full and healthy lives after having heart attacks.

What can I do to prevent heart attacks?

Eat a clean healthy diet, low in sodium and saturated fats, and get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day.  Keeping your heart in-shape is the best way to prevent a heart attack.  Also, talk to your HCP about your risks, and getting your blood pressure and labs checked at your annual exam can also help you to know your risk factors.  The American Heart Association also put together a little heart test, to test your knowledge. Know the symptoms and share with other women in your life to help save their life.

Spread the knowledge, it will save lives.

Yours in Good Health


How do you help in Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is one of the worldwide leading causes of death and in the US alone, around 250,000 people die each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More people die each year from SCA than they do from colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer, AIDS, car accidents, and guns.  That’s pretty remarkable, when you think about it in those terms, right? There are some pretty simple things that you can do to help a victim of sudden cardiac arrest, and you never know when you might be in the position to help save someone’s life!

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?

SCA is different from a heart attack, but a heart attack (which is a build up of plaque in the arteries that bring blood to the heart, leading to a decreased blood flow, so the heart is not working optimally, but still getting some blood flow) can lead to SCA.  SCA is a sudden and  immediate loss of cardiac function, that also causes respiratory issues (i.e. trouble breathing/moving air in and out of your lungs), a loss of consciousness, and an arrhythmia (a disorganized rhythm that doesn’t allow your heart to pump blood out to your brain, arms/legs, or other organs).  This can be really troubling because many times people do not know that they may have some sort of underlying heart disease, or be at risk for SCA.  It can just happen, at the most unexpected times, and a victim will literally just drop unconscious without any warning signs.  Without immediate treatment (i.e. within 10 minutes, but preferably less) people will die from SCA, or suffer major brain injuries due to a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, even if we can restart the heart in a normal (perfusing) rhythm.

Compressions (CPR) 2 inches (4cm) in at least 100 times/minute


How to visualize an AED in public

What can I do?

Well, the immediate treatments for SCA are cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation.  The days of having to give “mouth to mouth” are long over, and the American Heart Association encourages bystanders to do “hands only CPR” in which you check to see if the person is responsive, and if they are not, call 911 (or your emergency number) to get help, and push on the lower half of the breast bone with your two hands interlaced, using the palms to push at least 2″ (4cm) in on the chest, and allowing for the chest to go back to its normal position, and continue on at a rate of at least 100 times per minute (to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”.) Immediate CPR alone can help victims of SCA tremendously, and getting trained healthcare professionals called out to help ASAP is key.  But there is one other thing that you can do: defibrillate (AKA Shock). What does that mean?!?  Basically, defibrillation is a large electrical shock that you give to a victim to try to kick them out of that arrhythmia where there heart is not pumping blood out, and get them back into a normal perfusing rhythm.  Defibrillating, is like hitting a “reset” button for the heart.  And it sounds scary thinking that you are sending an electrical shock into someone’s heart, but it can only help them, and it won’t hurt them; if you don’t do it they could die, and if you do it, you can immediately save their life!!  How great is that.  Plus, it couldn’t be easier!

How do I defibrillate someone?

In the hospital, we have some pretty fancy defibrillators that definitely need some training to use, but in public places like libraries, gyms, hotels, sports arenas, restaurants, office buildings, stores, etc. there are automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) that could not be easier to use, and have three steps:

1. Turn the AED on (for most, opening them up turns them on) and the machine will prompt you through  the next steps

2. Attach the two pads to the victim (there are pictures on the AED and on the pads): one on the upper right chest, right below the collar-bone, and the other on the left side of the chest, under the arm on the lower half of the ribcage. Once these are attached, you need to ensure you are not touching the victim, and it will analyze the rhythm.  If it determines the victim needs to be defibrillated (get shocked), it will charge itself.

3. Press the defibrillate/shock button (it will light up) then immediately start compressions again.  If no shock is indicated, immediately restart compressions.

*The machine will prompt you the rest of the time to continue CPR and count down the two minutes until it needs to analyze the heart’s rhythm again and the sequence will restart.  It truly could not be easier!

To think that somethings that seem so easy, can save someones life?  I understand that it could feel scary and uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it, but you are helping to save someone from death, and the feeling of goodness that comes over you from saving a life is amazing, and really can’t be put into words.

To recap when you find a victim of SCA:

Make sure that it is safe for you to help (you don’t want to get hurt trying to help another person, so think of your safety first)

Check for responsiveness (if they cannot speak, are not awake, then they are considered unresponsive)

Call emergency services for back up

Start chest compressions (2 inches in at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute)

If there is an AED nearby, have someone grab it, attach the victim ASAP and follow the prompts

Continue until emergency services comes, or someone to take over from you…..if no one comes, keep going until you are exhausted.

It may seem like common sense, but when you are alone with someone in SCA, it’s important to practice and remember these steps, because your actions can help to save a victims life. I know you can do it, even if you are scared, because if you were in SCA you would want someone to help you!  If you are interested in taking a Heartsaver (CPR/AED) training class, check out the American Heart Association‘s website that can tell you where local classes are held. The more training, the better!

Yours in Good Health



Lower Your Cholesterol Levels with Food!

Cholesterol is always one of those buzz words that people talk about and a health issue that they are worried about. It is something that we should all be screened for, and keep in our thoughts when we eat daily. As part of a healthy lifestyle, adding certain food to our diets can help to naturally remove the “bad” cholesterol from our bodies and increase the “good” cholesterol.

What kinds of Cholesterol are there?

There are two different kinds of cholesterol: Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs) and High Density Lipoproteins.  I think that is where most people tend to zone out!  The LDLs are the “bad” cholesterol’s that tend to build up as plaques in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke.  The HDLs actually prevent heart attack and stroke, and they are thought to bring LDL cholesterol away from the heart and into the liver to be broken down and excreted by the liver.  Your LDLs should be kept below 100 (and some HCP’s will even tell you to get them below 70).  And HDL levels should be kept above 50 (the higher the better on this one!) Also, people over 20 ears old should get checked every 5 years, and once you hit the ripe old age of 35 (for men) and 45 (for women) you should be screened more frequently, and based on your past medical history, your HCP may screen your with your annual physical.

What can I eat to decrease my LDL and increase my HDL?

There are many foods that can help boost your “good” cholesterol and help to decrease the “bad”, of course this is along with a healthy lifestyle of exercising 20-30 minutes minimum a day and, drinking lot of water, and if this doesn’t help, you may have to use medications to drop your “bad” cholesterol levels.

Oats: two servings of oats per day have been shown to decrease LDL by up to a little over 5% in 6 weeks. It has a substance in the oats that absorb the LDLs and help you to excrete them so they don’t adhere to your artery walls.

Red Wine: Some of the grapes used in making Rioja wine were found to have high fiber levels, and a study conducted in Spain found that people with slightly elevated LDLs had around a 9% drop in LDLs and those who entered the study with high LDLs had around a 12% decrease.

Fish high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, Arctic Char, Mackerel, & Sardines are high in Omega 3’s can help to increase HDL’s by 4% when replacing other meals with proteins high in saturated fats.

Beans: Adding 1/2 beans (black, kidney, pinto) to soup can help to decrease LDLs up to 8% because they are so full in fiber, it can help to draw the LDLs out.

Olive Oil: It is full of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) that help to lower LDL levels and actually increase HDLs

Black Tea: one serving of black tea a day can decrease LDLs up to 10% in only 3 weeks!

Avocado: Whilst high in calories and fat, they are also full of the MUFAs, so they should be used in moderation, but a tasty treat to boost “good” cholesterol!

Chocolate: In a large study, participants that added a serving of cocoa powder to their diet daily for 12 weeks increased their HDLs by 24%.

Garlic: Helps top lower cholesterol by preventing LDLs from sticking to the artery walls, and it is suggested to eat 2 to 4 fresh cloves a day (but yikes, get ready for some kickin’ breath!)

Walnuts: When eating 1.5 oz of walnuts 6 days/ week for a month, study participants were found to have a decrease in LDLs by 9.3%, but just like avocados they are high in fat and calories, so watch how much you eat, and try to stick to the 1.5oz per day.

Adding these foods to a healthy lifestyle can help to keep your cholesterol in a good, healthy range, and if you tend to eat a higher fatty diet, try to supplement a higher fat food for one of these cholesterol lowering foods.  Talk to your HCP about your risks, your current cholesterol levels, and make sure that you have follow-up cholesterol levels checked after changing your lifestyle to show improvement.  Try to add these foods and live a heart healthy lifestyle!

Yours in Good Health