We began the month of February asking everyone to wear red on Friday, February 4, to help everyone be aware of taking care of our hearts, and stating that heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.  Midway through February, we again talked about keeping our hearts healthy.  What better way to end the month than to again express the importance of this subject – keeping the very most vital organ in our body in good shape. 

Everyone should discuss their heart health with a physician.  He/she should know important things about their patients – family history, blood pressure, and other risk factors that need to be watched.  Also, too much sodium intake should be avoided.  Healthy people should consume a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which equals 1 Tablespoon.  Those with high blood pressure or other risk factors should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day.  Over 75% of sodium consumption comes from pre-processed foods. 

Your primary care manager can determine what risk factors you might have.  Age (men over 45, and women over 55), tobacco use, inactive, diabetes, and overweight/obese, are all risk factors; family history cannot be changed, but tobacco use, weight, and high cholesterol can.  Your physician will order a lipoprotein test, an analysis that breaks down cholesterol into four groups:

  1. Total cholesterol;
  2. Low density lipoproteins (LDL), “bad” cholesterol;
  3. High density lipoproteins (HDL), “good” cholesterol;
  4. Triglycerides.

Fasting prior to this test is required in order to ensure an accurate reading.

Total cholesterol values over 200 may indicate an increased risk for heart disease.  However, LDL levels better predict risk factor for heart disease.  Those with known heart disease (previous heart attack or peripheral vascular disease) or diabetes should have levels under 100.  LDL over 130, with two or more of the above risk factors, is abnormal.  An LDL over 160, with one or fewer of the risk factors, is also abnormal.  HDL cholesterol more than or equal to 60 takes away one risk factor and decreases your risk for heart disease.  Levels under 40 add a risk factor.  Normal triglyceride levels are under 150.  However, as with other components of the lipid test, fasting less than 9-12 hours may alter triglyceride results.  The best policy is to sit down with your doctor and let him explain these results in detail so you understand exactly where you stand. 

Also, here’s news about the  importance of training kids in CPR.  It is important for both adults and kids to know how to administer this life-saving procedure.  Here are the facts:

  • Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
  • 85% of cardiac events happen in the company of family and friends.
  • The incidence of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes ranges from .23 to 1 death per 100,000 high school athletes in the U.S. annually.
  • Studies have shown that children as young as 9 years old can learn and retain CPR skills.
  • About 5,900 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes, including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome. 

Last, but not least, I want to leave February heart health tips for you with a recipe that I found on the North Carolina State Health Plan website:


Preparation Time: Depends on you

Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate


1 ounce of prevention

1 or more motivated individuals

Lbs of healthy weight (remove large amounts of fat)

Well-balanced nutrition

4-6 servings of exercise/week

Blood pressure management

Less than 200mg cholesterol/day

Controlled blood sugar (glucose), if diabetic

A pinch of stress management

Moderate alcohol consumption (O optional)

O tobacco (for best results) 

Instructions: Combine the above ingredients on a regular basis, you will feel better, and your heart will thank you!