American Heart Health Month

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(L-R) Dr. Winakur, Ms. Robinson-Dawkins, Dr. Wen, Fellow Joyce Roller, Go Red for Women spokeperson, Ali Blais, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Dr. Baker-Smith and Dr. Fisher.

By: Allie Ondrejcak, Communications Intern

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a Press Conference recognizing American Heart Month. The event featured: Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner at the Baltimore City Health Department; Dr. Shannon Winakur, Medical Director at the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Agnes Hospital; Ali Blais, Director of Development for Go Red for Women; Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, a heart disease survivor; and University of Maryland Medical Center’s Dr. Stacy Fisher. UMMC Cardiologist Dr. Carissa Baker-Smith was in attendance as well.

Dr. Fisher specializes in complex heart disease with special interests in adult congenital heart disease, heart disease during pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension. She spoke about several important issues at the conference:

  • The differences in heart disease between men and women
    • Heart risks and heart disease during pregnancy—because women are having children at older ages, and with complex heath conditions like diabetes and obesity, they are at a higher risk of developing heart disease
    • If you have a known condition, talk to your health provider before planning a pregnancy and to continue to discuss any symptoms you experience throughout
  • The importance of knowing your family history and heart-related sudden death.
    • it is important to be screened, and to have your children screened, for heart conditions
    • Being screened and knowing your history can help to prevent heart-related sudden death

In the United States, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. But the good news is 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented! The American Heart Association gives us 7 easy ways to lower your risk and improve your heath:

  1. Get Active
  2. Control Your Cholesterol
  3. Eat Better
  4. Manage Your Blood Pressure
  5. Lose Weight
  6. Reduce Your Blood Sugar
  7. Quit Smoking

Visit the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center
for more information about our services and resources.

Also, check out UMMC’s “Never Skip a Beat” Heart Health Awareness Campaign for health tips, insights and information.

(L-R) Dr. Baker-Smith, Fellow Joyce Roller, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Winakur

 

Making Heart Health a Year-Round Priority

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern

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February and American Heart Month are ending, but just because March is around the corner doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about keeping your heart in tip-top shape.

The American Heart Association (AHA), whose mission is to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and the UM Heart Center offer a series of lifestyle recommendations for optimizing your heart health all year round.

Move More

Working out regularly is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week (if you can’t do 30 minutes at a time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day).

Also try working in exercise to your normal routine:

  • Instead of driving to the store, walk or bike.
  • Park in a spot farther from your destination.
  • Keep dumbbells near the remote so you can stay active while watching TV.

Skip the Snacks

What you eat is just as important as what you do. Swapping out foods heavy with added sodium and fat for nutrient-rich foods can help you manage your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Here is a list of foods to fix and foods to nix.

Fix more foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, including:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Protein sources – poultry, fish and nuts

Nix processed foods and those that tend to be high in sodium and fat, including:

  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Red meat
  • Deep fried foods or foods cooked in butter

Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco and other ingredients common in cigarettes frequently contribute to heart disease. Even secondhand smoke kills nearly 70,000 people each year.

The good news is that when you quit smoking you see short term benefits right away, and it only takes about 5 to 15 years to reduce stroke risk to that similar of a nonsmoker. There is still time to reverse the damage caused by tobacco and ensure that your heart keeps pumping for many years to come.

Click here for a list of Smoking Cessation Classes in your area.

 

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Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths each year, making these types of incremental changes vital to reducing your risk of heart related illness and keeping your heart well for all of life’s challenges, in February or any other month.