The Nine Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Heart Healthy

February 01, 2019

You probably already know Valentine’s Day is coming up, but did you know February is Heart Health Month? So, instead of candy, we’re giving you these bite-sized tips to help you show your heart some love.


1.    Heart Disease Runs in Families.


AltaMed Latino family in group shot smiling
 
To some degree, heart disease is thought to be ‘hereditary’ or ‘genetic:’ that is, it can be passed from one generation to another through the genes. However, having the genes for it doesn’t mean you are absolutely certain to develop heart disease: it just means you’re more at risk.

 

2.    But There’s a Lot You Can Do to Prevent It.


AltaMed middle age Hispanic man running on treadmill

 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that about 80% of all heart disease deaths could have been prevented by following steps like eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and having regular health screenings.


3.    All Fats Aren’t Created Equal. 


AltaMed half avocado on wooden table
 
Most of us have been trained to believe that all fats are bad. However, some sources of fat are actually good for you and may reduce your risk for heart disease. 

  • Unsaturated fats are the good kind of fat, and they’re found in foods like avocados, nuts like almonds and walnuts, olive and canola oils, fish, and more. Enjoy in moderation. 
  • Then there are saturated fats (found in whole milk products, red meat, skin-on chicken, among others) which should be limited to occasional eating; and trans fats, which should be avoided when possible as they increase both your cholesterol level and heart disease risk. They’re found in processed foods like fries, cakes and cookies, microwave popcorn, and frozen pizza.


4.    Your Belly Could Tell You Your Risk. 


AltaMed chubby man sitting on couch with burger fries and beer
 
If you have a lot of fat around your middle or belly, compared to your hips, you may be more likely to have heart disease (think being apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped.) One recent study found that women who carried their fat around their middles were twice as likely to have heart problems, including heart attacks. Fortunately, losing even a little weight can make a difference for your heart.


5.    Petting Puppies is Good for You. 


AltaMed golden retriever dog smiling and getting pet by owner
 
Science can’t say for sure that stress causes heart disease, but stress leads to the factors that can put you at risk for heart disease or make your health worse (such as high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers, to name a few). Whatever you can do to manage your stress is good, and doctors agree that having a pet, and even just stroking an animal, can help. In fact, one study showed that dog owners who’d had heart attacks or heart problems had better health outcomes than those who didn’t have pets.


6.    There’s a Connection Between Your Teeth and Your Heart Health.


AltaMed woman smiling putting toothpaste on yellow toothbrush
 
A good oral hygiene routine is important for your overall health and well-being, not to mention your confidence. Not brushing and flossing can lead to bacteria, inflammation, and plaque, which has been linked to heart attacks.
  


7.    The Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. 


AltaMed man grabbing heart like he is having chest pains
 
Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person, but the signs usually include:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms 
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden lightheadedness or dizziness


8.    One Heart Attack Leads to Another. 


AltaMed person in hospital bed
 
Those who’ve had heart attacks are four times more likely to suffer a fatal cardiac event, compared to those who haven’t. 


9.    You Can Get Your Numbers Checked at No Cost. 


AltaMed two female doctors and one male doctor
 
Getting your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol numbers checked are all considered essential health benefits and therefore, your medical plan will cover a trip to the doctor at no charge to you. 
 

 

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Eating Until You’re Color-Full

July 30, 2018

Colorful foods aren’t just nice to look at, they offer a lot of benefits to your health! 

berries

Red, Blue, and Purple Food:

  • They can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, urinary tract infections, and memory loss.
  •  These foods contain potassium, vitamins A and C, and folate. 
  • They are known for anti-inflammatory properties, helping to protect against cell damage, and keeping the heart, blood, joint, and immune systems healthy. 
  • Foods include tomatoes, pomegranates, berries, watermelon, cabbage, beets, eggplant, grapes, raisins, cherries, kidney beans, and red pepper.

 

lemons

 Orange and Yellow Food:

  • They can improve immune function and lower the risk of heart disease, vision problems and cancer. 
  • These foods contain folate, potassium, bromium, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. 
  • They are known for flushing out toxins and keeping the eyes, skin, teeth, and bones healthy. 
  • Try carrots, lemons, oranges, corn, peaches, nectarines, mango, squash, pineapple, bell pepper, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes. 
     

avacados

Green Food:

  •  They can lower the risk of cancer and vision problems. 
  •  These foods contain folate and vitamins A, C, and K. 
  •   They are known for fighting free radicals, helping prevent blood clots, and regulating blood sugar. 
  • Foods include leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula, green apples, limes, kiwi, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, grapes, and broccoli. 


garlic

White Food:

  • They can lower the risk for stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancers like colorectal cancer.  
  • These foods contain potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C. 
  •  They are known for providing essential dietary fiber and supporting the immune and circulatory systems.
  •  Try pears, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, ginger, dates, potatoes, garlic, onions, black eyed peas, and white nectarines. 


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we should all try to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day in a variety of colors. So go ahead and fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and veggies! 

 

Health Screenings After 50

October 11, 2018

Even if you’ve lived a healthy life, as you enter your 50s, your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as arthritis, heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, and even depression increases. These diseases can take years off your life, as well as affect the quality of your life.

Getting regular screenings can help you:

  • Lower your risk of chronic disease or illness
  • Save money on your medical costs, since chronic diseases require additional medical care
  • Delay or prevent illness or disease by catching them early and treating them

Basically, there’s every reason for you to take charge of your health, especially since most preventive services and screenings are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare!
 

Know What Tests You Need


These are a few of the most common screenings you need starting at age 50:

  • Women should get a mammogram every 2 years
  • Colorectal cancer screenings every year
  • Regular diabetes screenings
  • Lipid disorder screenings to monitor blood cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis screenings should start at age 60 to screen for healthy bones

The best way to stay healthy and keep up on your screenings is to get regular health checkups. Depending on your gender and your family health history, your doctor may recommend additional screenings for you.

Call us for more information about the health screenings you need at (888) 499-9303