American Heart Month

Try This Heart Healthy Recipe (You Won’t Miss The Salt!)

February 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm , by

We’ve been blogging and tweeting nonstop this month to get the message across: Way too many women are dying of heart disease. One of the things you can do to keep your heart healthy is cut back on salt to prevent high blood pressure. That’s why we tapped our friend Jessica Goldman Foung, also known as Sodium Girl, to share some delicious recipes from her new book Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook.

By Jessica Goldman Foung

Why not do something for your heart this Valentine’s Day? Not just your figurative heart—the one that beats for your special someone—but your actual heart that beats to keep you going. Back in 2004, when an aggressive attack of the autoimmune disease lupus caused my kidneys to fail, my eating habits had to change a lot. When you have excess sodium in your diet (and trust me, if you’re not paying attention, you probably do), the extra salt spills into your bloodstream, which makes you retain fluid and raises your blood pressure. Your kidneys normally regulate your sodium level, so for me, losing the salt was a must.

It took a life-threatening event to get me to ditch salt, so I know it’s hard. But what I learned is that nearly everyone can—and should—cut back. The average American consumes almost 3,500 mg of sodium every day, which is double the recommended amount.

Without salt, I became more daring and playful in the kitchen. I started eating vegetables that used to scare me like bok choy, leeks and Brussels sprouts, and I experimented with cuisines I’d never tried, including Moroccan, Indian and Korean. I was determined to make over salty meals that I’d always loved, which led to discovering many replacements for high-sodium ingredients, like soy sauce. Yes, even soy sauce! So I know anyone can do it.

I had to figure it all out on my own, so I’m happy to share a recipe to get you started. Read more for one of my favorite low-so recipes: Tamarind “Teriyaki” Skewers (pictured above). Read more

Surprising Facts About Women And Heart Disease

February 6, 2013 at 9:29 am , by

Way too many women are still dying of heart disease. We need to talk about women’s heart health all year long, of course, but February is the month when marketing and media really flex their muscles to raise awareness. So we asked Lisa Collier Cool, a member of the Journal’s new Health and Wellness Blogger Team, to surprise us with some facts from her upcoming book. Check it out!

By Lisa Collier Cool

Life insurance companies know a secret that most doctors never tell patients: When it comes to rating your risk for a fatal heart attack, the least important cholesterol number is your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Instead, actuaries use a math formula to tell if you might be headed for a heart attack. They divide your total cholesterol by your HDL (good) cholesterol level. If the ratio is below three, you’re likely to qualify for the best insurance rates because your heart-attack risk is relatively low. (However, any abnormal cholesterol result, including high LDL, can pose a threat to your heart, especially when combined with other risk factors.)

That’s just one of the surprising facts I learned while working on my upcoming book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene, with coauthors Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doneen, ARNP, co-founders of the Bale/Doneen Method of heart and stroke prevention. Here are seven more things you may not know about women’s heart health.

1. Since 1984, heart disease has killed more women than men each year, claiming more women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined.
2. Getting a flu shot cuts your risk for a heart attack or stroke by up to 50 percent.
3. For a healthy heart, take a few days off from work. Women who only go on vacations once every six years, or less often, are eight times more likely to suffer heart attacks or die from cardiac causes than those who vacation at least twice a year, according to a 20-year study.
4. Delicious news: People who eat the most dark chocolate are 37 percent less likely to get heart disease, and 29 percent less likely to have a stroke, than those who eat the least chocolate, an analysis of studies involving 114,009 people found. However, a square or two a day is all you need.
5. Yo-yo dieting can harm women’s hearts, a new study reports.
6. Seventy percent of heart attacks have the same root cause as type 2 diabetes: insulin resistance. Find out if you’re at risk by asking your healthcare provider to order a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test to check for abnormal blood sugar.
7. Fifty percent of women who have a heart attack don’t call 911, often because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Click here to find out the warning signs and more shocking facts about women and heart disease.

Photo copyright antoniomas,

Why You Need To Go Red Right Now

January 30, 2013 at 8:51 am , by

Can a color make a difference? When I say the word “pink,” I know what pops into your mind: breast cancer. The pink-washing of October has been phenomenally successful at making everyone aware of breast cancer—and comfortable talking about this once-verboten subject. Millions of donation dollars have led to advances in detection and treatment. The next step, we hope, is prevention and a cure.

Now here’s why you need to go red. Because far more women die every year of cardiovascular disease than they do of breast cancer—in fact, 10 times more. CVD is still the number 1 killer of women. And way too many of us are still in denial. I get furious when I hear stories of women who downplay their symptoms and don’t call 911 when they could be having a heart attack. We need to change this!

Ten years ago, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute created National Wear Red Day to raise awareness and help spread the word about how women can reduce their risks of heart disease. It’s working—but not enough. We’re asking you to get on board.

Make sure you know the symptoms of a heart attack and what you should do. Memorize these!

Wear red this Friday, February 1, to show you mean business. Get your friends, family, work colleagues and even your pets to do it, too. Then share your photos here.

Here’s what else you can do. Encourage your friends by using this image as your Facebook profile shot.

Make a donation by shopping for the cause here.

See you in red this Friday—let’s help make a difference!

Photo copyright Zoom Team,


Worth Celebrating: Your Heart!

February 9, 2012 at 11:24 am , by

When I think of February, I think of red—lots of it. Not because of all the cheesy (but fun) Valentine’s Day stuff, but because it’s American Heart Month. February doesn’t really start until that first Friday when we celebrate National Wear Red Day.

Did you participate last week? (We did! That’s us, the @lhjHealthLadies on Twitter, above.) This year, Go Red for Women is hosting a challenge on its Facebook page to spotlight its most spirited supporters. All you have to do is submit a photo of you and your coworkers or friends (or pet!) wearing red. Then, until February 23 people can vote via “Likes” on their faves. Winners will be announced February 25.

Here at the Journal we start gearing up for February way in advance, when we plan our heart health coverage for the magazine. Yes, some of it can be glamorous—like the beautiful photos we shot of a model hooked up to an EKG (below) for this year’s story. But the real reason we devote pages to cholesterol, blood pressure and the myths and realities of heart disease is that unfortunately, it is still the number one killer of American women. And women between the ages of 35 to 54 appear to be dying from it at an increasing rate, despite decreasing rates among other groups. This year, we also learned that nearly half of women say they wouldn’t call 911 immediately if they thought they were having a heart attack. That’s crazy! Women are also less likely to be diagnosed correctly, making them less likely to receive life-saving therapy right away.

All of this is why we sent one of our over-stressed writers with all the wrong risk factors to see a cardiologist and report back. And why we decided to interview a heart attack survivor turned blogger about why doctors dismissed her symptoms at first. Sometimes personal stories say it even better than statistics.

But that doesn’t mean stats aren’t useful in their own way. Yesterday, I went to a briefing hosted by the Mayo Clinic, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and WomenHeart where I picked up a few telling numbers:

  • 1 in 2 women will die of heart disease or stroke, versus 1 in 25 who will die of breast cancer.
  • 8 million: the number of American women with a history of heart attack or angina.
  • Do you smoke? Besides the fact that 30 percent of heart disease deaths are caused by smoking, your risk of heart disease is 25 percent higher than a male smoker’s. (And social smoking counts—you don’t have to smoke a pack a day, or even a pack a month, to hurt your heart.)
  • 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor.

But the most important number is this one: 80 percent of heart disease cases are preventable. There are lots of things you can do to keep your heart healthy, and the sooner you start the better. Check out our resources page if you need a little direction.

Happy American Heart Month from the LHJ Health Ladies!