Heart Disease and Women

Heart Disease and Women


February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the number 1 killer in women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.  February 7th is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

There are a several misconceptions about heart disease in women, and they could be putting you at risk. The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health for this very reason.

We’ve all seen the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. In reality, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene may not be that dramatic.

“Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, ” said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. “Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”

Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesn’t get help right away.  These are the most common heart attack symptoms in women:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest.  It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.  But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of the above-noted  signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Living With Heart Disease

No matter what you call it – heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or coronary heart disease – it means there is a plaque buildup in the walls of your arteries. As the plaque builds, your arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke. Women are also diagnosed with heart disease when an irregular heartbeat or heart valve problems are present.

What To Do After Your Diagnosis

1. Drop the guilt. Women pride themselves on being able to do it all. But sometimes, you need to lean on others; and when you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, that’s the time to do it.

2. Realize that it’s okay to feel vulnerable. Reach out to other women who share your diagnosis and start to build a personal support team. Know when you need to let go of some control and let others take care of you. It may be a struggle at first, as it was for survivor and nurse, Eva Gomez. Eva hated feeling that she wasn’t in control as she placed her life in the hands of her fellow medical staff. But once she understood that fear and feeling helpless is normal, she welcomed the support of family and friends. And it was that support that helped her realize that she had a second chance at life.

3. Join support groups. There’s no reason to cope with heart disease on your own.  In addition to local support groups, you can also connect with other women through the Go Red For Women heart match program.  Share your story, then find someone like you.  Click here to connect online.

4. Believe in yourself.  Yes, the diagnosis is going to create feelings of depression, anger and fear. But it’s important to process those feelings and then get past them.

Heart Disease Prevention

You have the power to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.  Use these tips to help set you on a heart-healthy path for life.

Chose a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is yours to follow if you want it. Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level and heart disease risk — and these factors may be controlled by:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Enjoying at least 150 minutes a week moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and more than two days a week muscle strengthening activities
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke

Know your fats – Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease. Make sure you understand the difference between good fat and bad fat.

Cook heart-healthy – It’s not hard to whip up recipes that fit with the low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan recommended by scientists to help you manage your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.  There are many heart-healthy cookbooks and websites to help.

Understand drug therapy options – For some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to reach healthy cholesterol levels or control your heart risk. Your doctor may prescribe medication.  You may need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs or blood pressure medications.

Avoid common misconceptions – Knowledge is a key to improving your health by knowing how to truly live a heart-healthy life. Here are a few ways to ensure your heart disease knowledge is up to speed:

Work with your doctor – You and your healthcare professionals each play an important role in maintaining and improving your heart health. Know how to talk with your doctor about your cholesterol levels and be sure you understand all instructions. Follow your plan carefully, especially when it comes to medication — it won’t work if you don’t take it as directed. Whether you’ve been prescribed medication or advised to make diet and lifestyle changes to help manage your cholesterol, carefully follow your doctor’s recommendations. Heart risk assessments are recommended by the American Heart Association for the following individuals:

  • People ages 40 to 79 should have their 10-year risk calculated every four to six years
  • People ages 20 to 59 should receive a lifetime risk assessment

Take the Go Red Heart CheckUp – The Go Red For Women Heart CheckUp helps you on your path to improving your heart health by assessing your risk and offering healthy lifestyle information. In addition to your doctor’s examination, let us help you assess your risk for heart disease and stroke.

The facts and tips noted above are excerpts from the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women websites.  Visit their websites for more detailed information, downloadable guides and more.


Allergy-Friendly Super Bowl Party

With the Super Bowl upon us this weekend, many of you will be hosting parties.  If you have any friends or family with food allergies, you know that there are sometimes challenges with menu planning to make sure the snacks are safe for everyone.  Margaret and Meredith of Plate It Safe have come up with some great ideas.   With their permission, this is re-posted from their blog.  For the original post, click here.

Holiday events revolving around food can be stressful for people dealing with food allergies and intolerances. The Super Bowl (it’s pretty much a holiday event, right?) is no exception. But, what if you could host your own allergy-friendly Super Bowl party?

Many of the traditional Super Bowl foods can be allergy-friendly. And those that aren’t can be made so quite easily. Here’s our list:

  • Popcorn: We love popcorn – it’s crunchy, it smells good, it’s snacky. It has some real benefits, being light on calories and high on fiber. And, it tastes good with just a couple of simple additions (like olive oil and salt) — perfect for the food allergic set. After all, “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is pretty much the golden rule for someone with a top 8 food allergy or gluten intolerance.For store-bought popcorn, one brand we like is Skinny Pop. It’s labeled dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free, and gluten free. In regards to its manufacturing practices, an email to their corporate office received this response: “SkinnyPop is the only food manufactured in our facility as well as the only item that touches our lines. There is no peanut, tree nuts, wheat, and/or dairy at the facility.”Yay, Skinny Pop!If you’re looking for something sweet, try Divvies Gourmet Popcorn whose three flavors are safe for those with food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs.

    Or, if you like to make your own popcorn, try drizzling homemade popcorn with oil and nutritional yeast.

  • Potato Chips and Dip: Many unflavored potato chips don’t contain the top 8 allergens or gluten as ingredients BUT it’s often unknown as to what type of facility or on what type of line they were manufactured. We featured some allergy-friendly potato chip brands a few weeks back. If you’re super-sensitive, Epicurious has a simple recipe for homemade potato chips.But, no matter which you choose, potato chips taste so much better with a good french onion dip (gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and egg-free courtesy of Heidi Kelly at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom).

Allergy-Friendly Guacamole


  • Tortilla Chips and DipMake your own or buy safe tortilla chips at the store. One brand we like is Food Should Taste Good. All their products are certified gluten-free and most are certified vegan (make sure to read the ingredient labels on the package).As for dip, my husband makes a very simple dip that gets rave reviews. All he uses is cubed ripe, fresh avocado and fresh salsa. Mix to taste. It’s fast, simple, and allergy-friendly. If you want something a little fancier, we found a top 8 allergen-free Mexican 7-layer dip courtesy of Nom Yum & Free.
  • Other dips:
    • Dill dip: Great with raw veggies, this dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free dill dip is courtesy of Heidi Kelly, Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom.
  • Potato Skins: With so many dairy-free substitutes on the market, tasty allergy-friendly potato skins are very doable. Here are two options – one courtesy of Young Allergies and the other from PETA.



  • Wings: What game day would be complete without tangy, saucy wings? From Food Allergy Chronicles, we discovered gluten-free and dairy-free wings and dip recipes using gluten-free Frank’s Hot Sauce.
  • Ribs: Another Game Day favorite is BBQ ribs. We’ve had delicious takeout from our local Armadillo Willy’s, which is one of my dairy and egg allergic daughter’s favorite restaurants. If you prefer to make your own ribs, choose from Inspired Eats’ dairy-free, gluten-free slow cooker ribs or Living Without’s dairy-free, gluten-free Plum Barbecued Baby Back Ribs.
  • Pizza: Pizza has been a staple at every Super Bowl party I’ve attended. Nowadays, many pizza places have gluten-free or vegan pizzas. For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve written about gluten-free pizza from Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and gluten- and dairy-free pizza from Patxi’s Pizza. Also in the SF Bay Area is the ever-popular Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria which is known for its gluten-free pizza and vegan topping options.Another option is to make your own pizza. We’ve written about dairy-free Daiya Cheese cheese shreds which melt beautifully on pizza. For those with gluten-intolerance, check out Gluten-Free Girl’s delicious looking gluten-free pizza crust.
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries: We had to throw in these adorable football-decorated chocolate-covered strawberries from Kids With Food Allergies. The ingredients? Safe chocolate chips, strawberries, powdered sugar, and water. Enjoy Life’s top 8 allergen-, gluten-free Semi-Sweet Mini Chips melt well — just be careful to melt them slowly so they don’t burn.

Check out our Safe Super Bowl Party Pinterest Board for images and links to these and more recipes, restaurants, and products. As always make sure to follow safe eating practices even (especially) when ordering take out food. And, for products, always read ingredients labels carefully.

Making Valentine’s Day Safe for Your Allergic Sweetie

Valentine’s Day is still over two weeks away, but it’s not too early to start planning, especially if your significant other has food or other allergies.  Here’s a great article with some helpful advice re-posted from CNN.com and written by Elizabeth Landau.   To read the original article, click here.

valentinesIt’s Valentine’s Day, a nationally recognized opportunity to show your romantic partner that you care about him or her.

But what if your honey has allergies? There are many different kinds of allergies, and some — particularly food allergies — can even be life-threatening.

We hear a lot about a mysterious rise in allergies among children, but adults can have reactions to plants and foods too.  A 2009 study found that 83% of people with allergic rhinitis — those annoying symptoms often associated with pollen in spring — said their sex lives were curtailed by their condition in some way.

That may be just one study, but the phenomenon makes sense to allergists.

“Think about it: If you can’t breathe, your nose is running, and your eyes are itchy, you most likely don’t feel very attractive or sexy,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and member of the public education committee for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in an e-mail.

Food allergies are especially problematic on occasions such as this one, where candies produced in facilities that make nut and peanut products get passed around, and restaurant staffers may be too busy to remember to honor special dietary needs.  It’s natural to feel anxious about trying chocolates of unknown origin or a new eatery if even a tiny piece of nut could send you to the emergency room.

As the significant other, you have the opportunity to be an “allergy hero.” Your job is to minimize risk and create a safe and supportive environment for your sweetie, on Valentine’s Day and in general.

Here are some tips for keeping romance alive and keep your partner healthy:

Reconsider flowers

Certain plants are more likely to induce sneezing than others, Bassett said. The scents of roses, star jasmine, narcissus, gardenia, lily of the valley, citrus and eucalyptus trees are some of the most common plant sources of nasal reactions.

You could also ask about other possible nasal irritants such as pets and dust in your home.  It might be a good idea to clean up anyway.

Know what’s in the sweet stuff

Life may be like a box of chocolates, but with food allergies, you need to know exactly what you’re getting.

The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat, according to the Mayo Clinic.  Many food products are required to have labels that list any of these ingredients that may be inside.

Depending on the severity of the food allergy, a box of chocolates that is made on shared equipment or even in the same facility as nuts may be hazardous.  If you buy a heart-shaped box where some chocolate cubes are filled with almonds and others are not, this may be unacceptable to a nut-allergic person.

There are several companies that make entirely nut-free, allergy-safe products for such situations, such as Amanda’s Own Confections, Divvies, Enjoy Life, Indie Candy and Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  In addition, the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board has created a list of sweets that tend to be safe for nut-allergic people.

When in doubt, though, make something yourself or include your partner in a fun baking activity.

… And the rest of the food

If your significant other or Valentine’s date has food allergies, you can’t just show up at a restaurant and expect special dietary needs to be accommodated, especially on a busy day.

Eating out can cause a lot of anxiety for people with food allergies. Sloane Miller, author of the popular blog “Please Don’t Pass the Nuts” and the book “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies” has a very specific strategy for ensuring a safe dining experience at a restaurant.

She recommends calling ahead and talking with the restaurant management to make sure her dietary restrictions can be accommodated.  Once at the restaurant, she meets the manager and shows a card listing everything she can’t eat; often, she said, a chef will join this conversation.  At this point, like in “Cheers,” everyone knows everyone’s name.

After eating, Miller leaves a generous tip and thanks the server, chef and manager. The next day she often gives a follow-up thank you to the manager by phone.

Of course, if you really want to ensure that your honey’s food isn’t contaminated by allergens, there’s always the option of cooking at home. That way, you can be sure that none of the pots, pans or utensils touched a problematic food in the preparation of the meal. You should keep a lot of these things in mind for children with allergies, too.

Watch your own food, too

If food allergies are a factor in your honey’s life, the nonallergic person should also watch intake.

Research presented at an allergy conference in 2010 suggests that another person’s saliva can present problems for an allergic person even hours after eating.  Brushing your teeth may help, but it may not be enough, Bassett said. Talk to your partner about his or her level of comfort regarding what you eat before smooching.

Beware of scented creams and oils

Massage oils, lotions and fragrances can all have ingredients that make people break out into rashes; ask ahead of time if there are particular chemicals or essential oils that cause problems.

Almond and macadamia nut oils, for instance, may be present in common beauty products.  Keep this in mind also for purchasing gifts.

If you’re going all the way …

Some people are allergic to latex. If you are planning on using condoms, be aware if your lover has a latex allergy and use a nonlatex condom if so. Tests are available to confirm if someone is hypersensitive to latex.

Be understanding and supportive

A willingness to take extra precautions surrounding allergies, especially life-threatening food allergies, will go a long way.

Everyone with food allergies should have an anaphyalxis action plan that they discuss and formulate with their doctor, and you should be familiar with it, too.

An epinephrine auto-injector, which people with severe food allergies are recommended to carry, can save a life if symptoms such as shortness of breath, throat closure and dizziness appear.  After using one, a patient will may still need emergency medical attention, so call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

You should know where the appropriate medications are kept and what your significant other’s emergency contact information is in case you need to go to the hospital.

Lastly, Miller said, remember to remain focused on the point of Valentine’s Day — “being together, expressing affection, support and love to each other.”

Why is a Medical ID Important for a Person with Diabetes?

Diabetes_GFBR_Red_CLMedical IDs and Diabetes

Diabetes bracelet or diabetic jewelry is probably the last thing on your mind after being recently diagnosed with diabetes. After all, bracelets, necklaces and anklets may not seem to serve any purpose beyond being decorative. However, when it comes to chronic diseases like diabetes, being easily identified as having a medical condition is often necessary in emergency situations.

This is why diabetes bracelets are often worn to alert people, such as rescuers, first-aid staff and medical professionals of the appropriate action to perform when the wearer is involved in an emergency. Immediately knowing that a person in distress has diabetes allows emergency personnel to take appropriate actions.

Knowledge Can Save a Life

When diabetics were first encouraged to wear diabetes bracelets, some people were not very supportive of getting “tagged” as a diabetic. However, the fact that the bracelets were medical alert tags and could make a difference between life and death in an emergency quickly showed why it was a necessity. Today, even with modern technology, doctors still recommend a medical ID for everyone with diabetes.

Diabetes requires special medical care and immediate attention. In some emergencies, the diabetic person may not always be able to speak or communicate. He or she may even be unresponsive. Furthermore, an emergency may occur when a relative or a friend who has knowledge about the diabetic person’s diabetes may not be around. In these cases, a diabetes bracelet can silently inform the attending medical personnel of the disease and even where the person keeps their insulin if necessary.

Preparing for a Diabetic Emergency

Diabetes can be a tricky and rather deceptive condition to have, primarily because blood sugar levels can fluctuate unpredictably. What if your blood sugar drops and you become confused or pass out, or you’re sick, and your blood sugar skyrockets and you become confused, or you’re in an accident and unconscious. In all these cases, you aren’t able to communicate. Diabetes medical identification provides important information to the emergency team. It may prevent confusion on the part of the police officer or response team as to whether the confused state is related to alcohol or drug intoxication and whether you get the appropriate treatment.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people with diabetes wear a diabetes medical alert identification bracelet, especially if you’re on a diabetes medication that can lower the blood sugar and cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar reactions).

Always ensure that you or your loved one is wearing a diabetes bracelet at all times and, especially, before leaving the house. If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off. New styles and designs won’t cramp your style and it can mean the difference between living a healthy life and suffering major medical consequences.

Medical IDs for Kids Just Got a Whole Lot Cuter!

Kid's Medical IDs just got a whole lot cuter!

Fishy Bubbles Action Bracelet

So the doctor recently told you that it would be a good idea to get your child a personalized medical ID bracelet or pendant to wear just in case of an emergency?

More and more doctors are recommending a medical ID for children with any of a number of chronic conditions like asthma, severe food or drug allergies, diabetes, and epilepsy.

Medical IDs are being recommended because they can drastically increase the speed and quality of care in an emergency situation. If a child is experiencing allergy related symptoms, wouldn’t they get faster and better care if the EMT knew that the child has a tree nut allergy and has an EpiPen in their backpack?

Kid's Medical IDs just got a whole lot cuter!

Dolphin Action Bracelet

Soccer Action Pendant

Soccer Action Pendant

Beware Bandits - Dairy Allergy Band

Beware Bandits – Dairy Allergy Band

However, your child probably doesn’t want to wear one of those old, stodgy rectangular medical IDs on a metal chain. Don’t despair, kid’s medical ID bracelets and pendants have come a long way and there are many different fun and functional styles to choose from. Just take a look at these!

Floral Butterfly Action Bracelet

Floral Butterfly Action Bracelet


pink shimmer

Pink Shimmer Heart Charm Bracelet




Is a Medical ID Tattoo Right for You?

Is a medical ID tattoo right for you?Tattoos have been around for a very, very long time.  This much we know, but as more and more young people are diagnosed with diabetes, tattoo art that often spoke in rebellious terms has found a new meaning.

By inking the universal medical symbol on their bodies, diabetics like Samantha Graham Vancouver, British Columbia, have turned to body art as an alternative to wearing medical ID jewelry that is often used to inform medical personnel and others of their condition during an emergency.

“I thought it was the perfect idea because a tattoo would be much harder to miss than a simple alert bracelet if I was ever in the situation of not being able to communicate,” Graham says.

Sounds like a good idea, right?

But not everyone believes tattoos are the healthiest way for people with diabetes to communicate their condition.  Todd Soard, president of the Florida Association of Professional EMTs and Paramedics, says a tattoo will not be the first thing a paramedic looks for when transporting a patient.

“It is no doubt going to be missed,” he says. “Most EMS personnel are not trained to look for a tattoo because a tattoo is a tattoo!”

Dr. Michael Zbiegien, medical director of emergency services for the Children’s Hospital at Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas, agrees. “There’s not a lot of body searching on the street; [EMTs] don’t have time.”

But he says that because patients’ immediate needs are met by EMTs, doctors may have more time to seek out tattoos once they reach the emergency room.

“Most physicians would honor a medical tattoo provided that [it] wouldn’t cause additional risk,” Zbiegien says.  But, he advises, “You want to put it in a place where we’re going to see it quickly.”

Of course, tattoos are not the only option.  Instead of a tattoo, Soard recommends that people opt for a tried-and-true solution: wearing a medical ID bracelet.  Medical ID bracelets that prominently feature the medical caduceus emblem can quickly notify emergency responders of a patient’s condition.  Information engraved on the bracelet communicates vital information to EMTs without needing the patient’s response.

Soard says first-response teams, as well as doctors, are trained to search for these items and are “not going to be looking all over [patient's] bodies for a tattoo. We don’t have time for that.”

But is a tattoo better than nothing? Absolutely!

Despite the numerous safety benefits of wearing a personalized medical ID bracelet, they are commonly discarded by the young adult demographic set because of how they look.  While designs and styles for these medical IDs have been updated over the years, there has always been a negative stigma associated with them being ugly.

“I bought a Medic Alert necklace and didn’t wear it when I went out with friends, as I didn’t believe it looked very classy,” admits newly diagnosed diabetic Hayley Jones of the West Midlands, U.K.  Instead, Jones designed her own medical tattoo with “a feminine twist” and had it inked onto her wrist this year.

For people with looking to get inked for any reason, consider following these suggestions:

  •  make sure blood sugars are in good control before getting a tattoo
  •  do not get body art if you have a hemoglobin A1c above 8 percent
  •  make sure you go to reputable a tattoo artist
  •  do not get a tattoo in an area with poor circulation such as your feet
  •  try to avoid tattooing common injection sites

If you are getting a tattoo specifically as a medical alert, Justin Noland of American Medical ID recommends, “keep it simple, direct and on a place that an EMT is most likely to see, like the wrist.  The more fluff and design that is added will make it look more like a memorial tattoo or one to raise awareness, not one to provide information in an emergency.”

Healthy Weight Loss Tips


Physical activity is a big factor in healthy weight loss and keeping the pounds off.

It’s that time of year again when you notice that maybe the holiday pounds have added up more than they used to or that you just need a fresh start and want to drop some weight. Well, our partners at the American Diabetes Association have put together a few tips on Healthy Weight Loss for us to share with you.


  1. Succeed by setting realistic weight loss goals.
  2. Learn the benefits of diabetes weight loss and diabetes prevention.
  3. Measuring BMI and how your body shape affects diabetes. 

Does this sound familiar? You got tired of hearing your doctor and family bug you about losing weight to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.  So, you got a two-week diet plan from a friend.  You started gung-ho.  The first few days were great.  Then you found there were nights you didn’t have time to fix your food and the family dinner.  By the weekend your family wanted to have pizza.  And the diet went out the door when you left for your favorite pizza place.

Many people try to lose weight, but fewer people lose weight and keep it off. This happens for several reasons.  Sometimes people try to lose too much weight too fast.  Or they try to follow a food plan that isn’t how they can eat long term.  Reality is that losing weight in a healthy way and learning how to keep it off is not easy.  It takes a new way of thinking.  Are you ready?

Set Your Goals

Set a realistic weight loss goal. Think about losing 5, 10 or 15 pounds. One of your goals should be to lose a few pounds and be able to keep it off for a long time.  Here are some tips to help you make goals:

  • Choose a time to start when you think life will be as calm and in control as possible.
  • Do a self-check on what and when you eat. Keep honest food records for about a week. Write down everything you eat or drink. Use these records to set a few food goals. These food goals should be small changes you can easily make to your existing food habits.
  • Don’t look for a magic bullet diet. They don’t exist. You’ll do best if you base eating habits on what you found out in your self check food records. Do you snack a lot? Instead of chips or a candy bar, could you snack on a piece of fruit, pretzels, or some nuts? Are your portions too large? Do you eat too many sweets?
  • Be ready to change your food habits (and perhaps your family’s food habits) for good. Say good bye to some of your unhealthy habits and food choices.
  • Do a physical activity self-check. How much exercise do you get? How can you work more of it into your day? The tip sheet “Be Active, But How?” can help.

Be Ready to Start

Here are some tips to help you prepare to start your healthy lifestyle changes:

  • Learn about how much you should eat to eat healthy.
  • Get hints for how to make healthy eating happen in your life.
  • Clear the refrigerator and pantry of those tempting items. Having them out of the house makes it easier to say no.
  • Stock the house with healthier foods. If you have plenty of fruits and vegetables, it will make it easier for you to eat them. Keep the fatty foods and sweets to a minimum.
  • Use soups, salads, raw vegetables, and fruit to fill up. Eating fewer calories doesn’t mean facing an empty plate. You need to feel full to have long term success.
  • Think through how you will deal with common food problems. Don’t put these on hold. Sometimes you’ll have to grab a fast food meal. So, think about the healthiest and most satisfying options. You’ll want to enjoy a restaurant meal now and then. Ask your dining partner if they are willing to share. Can you order a doggie bag and put half the food away before you eat? How can you deal with work parties and holiday meals? Having a plan will help you.

Benefits of Weight Loss

There are many benefits of weight loss. Here are just a few. Some improve your health and others help you feel better. As you get ready to lose weight, make a list of how losing a few pounds will benefit you. Put this list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

  • Lower blood glucose if your blood glucose is higher than normal.
  • Lower blood pressure if your blood pressure is higher than normal.
  • Improve your blood fats if they are not in a healthy range.
  • Lighten the stress on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
  • Move around easier and breathe easier.
  • Have more energy.
  • Play more with your children or grandchildren. 

Diabetes Prevention Program Shows Weight Loss Benefits

A large study, called the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that if people at risk for type 2 diabetes lost a small amount of weight and became more active for three years they could prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. People also had other benefits of weight loss like lowered blood pressure.

If you already have diabetes, losing 10 to 15 pounds may help you lower your blood glucose, blood pressure, and improve your blood fats. Losing this weight may also help you cut down on some of the medicines you take. If you lose weight, talk to your doctor about whether you need to make changes in your medicines.

For more information, visit http://www.diabetes.org

January is National Blood Donor Month

January is National Blood Donor Month

The need for blood is constant, especially in the winter months

Since 1970 January has been declared National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, and with good reason.  Above all other times of the year, it’s the month that presents the most challenges in recruiting people to give blood.  This January is no exception with the local Red Cross in an urgent need for more donors.

Changing weather like the current winter storms, increased cold and flu symptoms and even the winter blues can keep the most dedicated blood donors from making or keeping an appointment to give blood.  Yet winter weather can lead to more traumatic injuries on icy roads and may increase the need for blood.

The local Red Cross needs about 650 blood donors every day to meet the needs of patients at 41 area hospitals.  However, there has been a 10 percent dip in blood donations so far this winter.  Recent blood drive cancellations due to weather also meant the Red Cross was not able to collect nearly 500 donations it had planned on for patients.  And as the Red Cross is trying to recruit donors, a high number of people asked to give are reporting cold or flu symptoms, which make them not able to donate.

“There are so many unpredictable factors at play that can affect the blood supply during January; it’s a critical time to remind the public of the need for more donors,” said Rodney Wilson, communications manager for the American Red Cross Central Ohio Blood Services Region.  “If you are in good health, now is the time to share that good health with patients in need.”

The dip in donations has also caused a decrease in the local blood inventory of key blood types including O-negative, A-negative and B-negative.

The Red Cross and American Medical ID urge everyone to make donating blood a priority this winter. Your help could mean hope for those in need.  To find out where you can give blood and to schedule your appointment, go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS, for additional information.

Diabetes Resolutions for the New Year

resolutionsAt this time of year, when so many resolutions are being made only to be broken shortly after the first few weeks of January, here are some diabetes resolutions that you’ll want to keep!

Re-posted from the Joslin Diabetes Center website.  For the full article, click here.

New Years is a time to come up with resolutions to better your life for the future.  Why not use your resolution this year to set goals to better your diabetes management and overall health?

Your diabetes management goals for the New Year should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-limited.  Click here to view a printable handout you can fill out to help you reach your diabetes management goals.

Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., C.D.E., Nutrition Diabetes Educator, at Joslin Diabetes Center, reviews some examples of annual and daily goals for diabetes management to set for yourself this New Years:

Annual Goals

  • See your physician 2 to 4 times a year.
  • Follow your schedule for checking blood glucose levels.
  • Follow exact instructions for every diabetes medications you take.
  • Know and keep these numbers in check: A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Get a renal function test and microalbumin test each year.
  • Get moving.  Any form of physical activity is a step in the right direction.
  • Create a well-balanced meal plan with your diabetes educator.
  • Have a yearly eye exam.
  • See your dentist twice a year.
  • Get a flu shot in the fall.
  • Always be prepared for a low or high blood glucose reaction – know the warning signs.

Daily Goals

  • Check blood glucose X times a day (depending on what your physician suggests).
  • Take all diabetes-related medications.
  • Examine your feet for cuts and sores.
  • Bathe with mild soap and lukewarm water.
  • Brush and floss your teeth.


8 Holiday Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

The below section is taken from the One Call Alert website blog, please click here for the original article.

Re-posted from Everyday Health, written by Jessica Firger.  

Holidays-and-alzheimers-articleThe holidays pose challenges for Alzheimer’s caregivers. But staying realistic about your loved one’s limitations can help make the season joyful for everyone.  The holidays are the time of the year to bring family and loved ones together. Cousins unite with cousins, in-laws meet other in-laws, and grandparents get to see just how much their grandchildren have grown.

But, if you are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this time of year can be incredibly stressful, because facing family festivities also means planning around the personal limitations that come with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is hard enough, but hosting a holiday dinner, navigating a Christmas party, or making it to midnight mass or a New Year’s Eve champagne toast can feel like an impossible feat.

“I think with the holidays it’s really important for us to take a practical approach and really adjust our expectations,” said Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer’s Association.”Maybe there are traditions in the family but they’re more of burden than a blessing.”

For a person with even advanced Alzheimer’s disease, holiday events and extended family time can be overwhelming because they break up the regular routine. A person with dementia feels safest and most comfortable when every day is more or less the same. “During the holidays our schedules tend to be different from our usual,” said Drew. “Oftentimes we might be traveling, we might have house guests, we might have activities that are planned and different. While this may be exciting, it might not be so helpful for people with Alzheimer’s.”

Preparing Your Guests for Grandpa

If you include your loved one with dementia in holiday celebrations, you may worry that the person will act out inappropriately or behave differently in a social setting, and you may ask yourself if you should warn other guests in advance.

Elaine Pereira, author of I Will Never Forget: A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia, thinks explaining the situation to friends and relatives before an event can help alleviate some anxiety and stress.

“Say something like: ‘Grandpa has dementia and he will be here for Christmas dinner,'” Pereira suggested. “‘Please be aware that he is loud, easily angered, chews with his mouth open, etc.’ If your guest can respect the unique parameters that having grandpa there requires, fine. If not, don’t invite them.”

But Barry Reisberg, MD, director of the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Resources Program in New York City, thinks it’s unnecessary to to talk with your guests beforehand. Someone in an early stage of the disease is more than likely equipped to handle social situations as they normally would, he said. But if something does go wrong, Reisberg recommends briefly acknowledging it to your guests later. “At some point, maybe at the conclusion of the dinner, you might look for ways to explain the person’s behavior,” he suggested.

When you’re making any holiday plans, keep in mind the stage in the person’s disease to determine what sort of presence and role the person has in a family celebration, said Amy Ehrlich, a spokesperson for the American Geriatrics Society and director of the geriatrics fellowship program at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “You may have to scale down because it’s a lot of work,” Erlich said. “And as the disease progresses you should give yourself permission to live your life.”

What that means is being selective about which invitations you accept, asking for help, and coming up with ways to keep your loved one occupied and comfortable during social events — and knowing when it might be best to go alone.

Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Here are some ideas that will help you keep your stress levels down and enjoy the holiday season:

  • Consult a doctor before hitting the road with an Alzheimer’s patient. Long-distance air and car travel can be difficult even for a cognitively healthy person. Drew said caregivers don’t need to rule out holiday travel completely, but it’s always best to check with a doctor before you pack your mom’s bags and book a flight. Always keep in mind that holiday travel tends to be more stressful for everyone.
  • Don’t make too many commitments. As a caregiver you probably already find it challenging enough to balance your life demands on a daily basis. Don’t lose sight of this. If planning your traditional Christmas dinner for 12 seems a little insurmountable, consider inviting fewer people or ask another family member or friend to host the event.
  • Scale down the meal. Passionate foodies love to cook for a crowd, but caregiving obligations often make it challenging.This may be the year to ask for help in the kitchen, go potluck, or even order food for delivery.
  • Bring the holiday celebration to your loved one. If you find it’s too stressful to include an ailing parent in the traditional holiday festivities, consider bringing Christmas to them. Many assisted living facilities  are happy to help with this, and some even hold parties for families of residents.
  • Ask for help. If you’re having company be sure to have a “second in command” to help care for the person when you’re tied up in the kitchen or busy greeting and socializing with guests.
  • Give your loved one a task or job. Ehrlich said events that involve a person with Alzheimer’s disease tend to run smoothly when you provide the person with a job or task to stay busy. This can include things such as helping set the table, wrap presents, chop vegetables, or fold laundry — anything that will make them feel like an important part of the family.
  • Play familiar music.  Music stirs memory and emotions. A person with Alzheimer’s disease is likely to take comfort in familiar tunes such as classic Christmas carols, which may bring up pleasant memories of joyous holiday celebrations from the past.
  • Take out the family photo albums. Similarly, looking at family photos can jog your loved one’s memory, which may encourage conversation with guests about childhood and family.