Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Does Heart Disease Have a "Look?"

I really like the following article because it relays the fact that heart disease doesn’t have a “look.” A woman who looks like she’s in great shape, eats fairly well and doesn’t smoke can still get heart disease people! Read on people, read on…

Heart disease is the number one killer of American women, and what may surprise you is that it doesn't just affect those who are older and out of shape.

Shelly Martel was 43, exercised regularly, didn't smoke and ate somewhat healthy.

Then she had a heart attack.

Her near death experience caught her completely off guard, and her story serves as a wake up call during this Heart Disease Awareness Month for Women.

"Thinking back, I'm trying to decide," Martel says. "Did I know this was coming on? I really can't say that I did."

That's because Martel isn`t your typical heart attack victim.

"I don't know how I had a heart attack, I just did," she says.

"To look at her you would not think she`s a woman with heart disease because she's slim, she's trim, she's in shape, she eats right, she exercises, I mean she does everything right," says Judy Meyers, coordinator of cardiac rehab at St. Alexius.

Still four years ago, as Martel was ironing her clothes for the next work day as a lab technician, she was hit with tightness in her chest and the other tell tale sign of an impending heart attack.

"I had horrible, horrible left arm pain and I kept thinking to myself," Martel says. "If I could just cut off my left arm that pain would be gone it was just excrutiating. It's the worst pain I've ever had."

So she drove herself to St. Alexius's emergency room, and 45 minutes later she went into cardiac arrest.

"I had chest compressions and the whole electric shock to bring me back," says Martel.

And she's lucky they were able to. Cardiologist John Windsor says the odds were against her..."

50 percent of women over the age of 45 will die from coronary artery disease, 75 percent of women over the age of 65 will die from coronary artery disease," Windsor says. "It is the leading killer."

Since Martel's brush with death four years ago, she’s had seven stents inserted into in her heart and has found out she likely has heart disease because it runs in her family. Her advice to other woman? Get to the ER or call 911 if you experience any chest pains, regardless of your age or health level. She says she likely would not be here to tell her story if she hadn’t.

***Fellow bloggers, it is evident from this article that you can't look at someone and determine whether they are at risk for heart disease. You have so many tools in your toolbox to help combat your risk for heart disease - lose the excess weight, don't smoke, eat heart health foods, make regular visits to your physician. By incorporating margarine into a heart healthy diet, you can rest assured that you are taking just one more step in reducing your risk.***

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chocolate Brown Delight

Yum, yum, yum, yum…okay enough, I promise to stop “yumming.” These brownies are deliciously bad when it comes to calories but positively divine when it comes to taste.

Chocolate Brownie Delight

Yield: 1 Batch
6 oz Unsweetened chocolate
¾ cups Margarine
6 Eggs, beaten
2 cups Sugar
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoon Vanilla
1½ cups Flour
16 oz Pkg. semi-sweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 X 13" pan and line with wax paper. Set aside.

Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in pan, stirring constantly. Remove and cool. Combine eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla; add to chocolate. Mix well. Stir in flour and morsels. Pour in pan and bake 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let's Have a Heart to Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! WebMd actually created a special “love section” on their site just for this momentous occasion.

Any big plans? Considering I don’t have a boyfriend or someone special (wah-wah), I’ll be spending my night with my best girl friends, going to dinner and to see the new cheesy romantic comedy, “Definitely, Maybe.” In all actuality, there’s nothing I would rather do than spend a night with my best friends. I don’t really buy into this Hallmark holiday but it’s always fun to celebrate loving people and being loved. If you’re in a great relationship – congrats and recognize how lucky you are. If you’re single like me – enjoy it and relish in the ability to be selfish during this time…not too selfish of course. And remember, today is a great day to start living a heart healthy lifestyle!

Below are excerpts from a WebMD article that features, Mimi Guarneri, MD, who authored the book, “The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing.” I pulled my favorite Q&A’s but if you’d like to access the whole article, its available here

What aspects of modern life are bad for our hearts?

Everything. The new definition of normal is going to work every day in a car that is not paid for so you can pay for the house that you never get to use because you are always at work. We are stressed out to say the least. Not to be doom and gloom, but this so-called modern life is not conducive to health. Today, people are so focused on mergers and acquisitions and the accumulation of things that the question becomes when is enough, enough. Sometimes our body has to put the brakes on for us with a big heart attack.

How is having a BlackBerry bad for the heart?
Today there is constant bombardment with emails, faxes, and BlackBerries. It's nonstop. We are forced to make split-second decisions because we don't have time to think. It's extremely stressful and as a result, we are flooded with stress hormones. The release of stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol can increase the risk of having a heart attack.

That's scary. What can we do to prevent this from happening?
Start by thinking about the heart physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physical care involves choosing the right foods and exercising. That's the easy part. The emotional aspect involves asking yourself if you are stressed, depressed, anxious, or angry. And the deeper, spiritual issue is asking yourself 'who am I [and] what is my purpose?'

If eating right and exercising is the easy part, why don't people do it?
People know how to eat and they know they need to exercise, but they are making poor choices mostly driven by stress and depression. They think: 'I am depressed, so why exercise?' Or: 'I am stressed, so I will have four martinis.'

Any Valentine's Day prescription to help combat the effects of modern life on our hearts?
Wake up and say, 'I will take responsibility for my health and well-being and ask myself the deeper questions.' There is nothing more important than health and family, and we take that for granted until we don't have them anymore. We need to get people back on track.

Anything else?
Turn off your BlackBerry and go for a walk.

How can a person be love?
Instead of looking to give love, just be love: Do something good for someone. The feeling you get when you see their face light up brings joy to your heart. Be grateful for your life and have gratitude for the gifts you have been given

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Skinny Jeans Taunt Me

Whew, where have I been lately?! It seems like this month is really flying by. January whizzed by and I just looked at my desk calendar only to realize it’s almost mid-February!! How are you guys doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Did you even make a New Year’s resolution?

My basic theme in 2008 is getting healthy, well healthier that is. I’m trying to hit the gym at least three times a week, consume a (heart) healthy diet and try to avoid adapting any lifestyle habits that might be detrimental in the long run.

Much to my surprise, and chagrin, I have lost ANY weight yet. Actually, I’ve gained weight. Can you believe it? I can’t understand and I must admit, it certainly doesn’t help to motivate me. I just have to keep telling myself muscle weighs more than fat and these new healthy habits will pay off in the long run. I’m not even going to act like I need to lose weight. I’m a petite girl and weight has never been a problem but man would it be nice to fit into that skinny pair of jeans that keeps taunting me from my closet.

Have any of you run into a similar problem? You know, when you think you’re doing everything right only to come to find out it hasn’t done a bit of good?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Okay Ladies, Pay Attention

Hey ladies, this video’s for you. It was produced by the Heart Specialists of Lancaster and demonstrates the real need for programs the increase awareness of heart disease among women. Everyone at is at risk, learn how to reduce your chances of getting heart disease.

According to the American Women’s Medical Association and

A woman who has a heart attack is one-and-a-half times as likely as a man to die from it, and, if she survives, more likely to have a second one.
Framingham Heart Study

In women, the rate of death from heart disease far exceeds that of breast cancer. One woman in 29 dies of breast cancer. One in 2.4 dies of cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women.
2003 American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Statistical Update

Making margarine a part of your overall healthy diet, which should be rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is a great way to cut back on saturated fats. As most of you are aware, saturated and trans fats are the two kinds of fats you do not need (or want) in your diet. Margarine is low in both!

Friday, February 01, 2008

But The Fire's So Delightful

Tis the season to stay indoors, curled up by the fire with a piping cup of coca or soup and doing absolutely nothing.

My weekend plans are just that. My body is fiercely rejecting the bout of cold weather Atlanta seems to be getting so I’m just going to stop fighting it. I plan to catch up on some reading, watch old movies like the “Sound of Music,” and revel in the fact that I’m not outside.

I found this recipe this morning and plan on trying it Sunday, which is typically my day to cook. I love gumbo, especially during the winter. It’s usually exhausting trying to chop all the ingredients but this version seems much less “chop-heavy.” Plus, it’s from Paula Dean, the chef of the South, so how can it be bad? Always be sure to let your gumbo sit for a couple of hours before eating so it can absorb all the flavors. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Paula Dean's Gumbo

• 3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
• Salt and pepper
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 5 tablespoons margarine
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 8 cloves garlic minced
• 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
• 3 stalks celery chopped
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
• 4 cups hot water
• 5 beef bouillon cubes
• 1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes with juice
• 2 cups frozen sliced okra
• 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
• 1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove.

Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine.

Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.