Six Steps to a Healthy Heart

ImageFebruary is Heart Month. The American Heart Association suggests six easy steps to cut your risk of heart attack.

  1. Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Tobacco smoke is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States.

    Quitline Iowa is a FREE telephone and online service available to Iowa residents 14 years of age and over.  The service connects callers with expert coaches that assist callers with overcoming common barriers such as dealing with stress, fighting cravings, coping with irritability and controlling weight gain. Those over 18, who enroll, can be eligible for up to 8 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gum or lozenges.

  2. Regular blood pressure checks.  High blood pressure makes your heart work harder, which puts more strain on the heart and arteries.  Your blood pressure is normal if it is 120/80 mm Hg or below.  You can stop in to Occupational Medicine and get your blood pressure checked anytime.

  3. Read labels. Make sure you eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.

    One successful labeling system that will help you make good choices is the NuVal System at Hy-Vee.  NuVal stands for “nutritional value”. The NuVal™ System scores food on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the NuVal™ Score, the higher the nutrition in that product. It’s that simple.

  4. Stay physically fit.  You don’t have to be an athlete to lower your risk of heart attack. Thirty minutes of moderate or brisk exercise three or more times a week is all it takes to help your heart.
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  6. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  Excess fat around the waist makes you a higher risk for health problems. Watch your calories as well as the amount of fats and cholesterol you eat.  Stay away from fad diets. According to ABC News in a story dated May 8, 2012:

    $20 Billion: The annual revenue of the U.S. weight-loss industry, including diet books, diet drugs and weight-loss surgeries.

    108 Million: The number of people on diets in the United States. Dieters typically make four to five attempts per year.

    85 Percent: The percentage of customers consuming weight-loss products and services who are female.

    "The very existence of the diet industry is proof of its ineffectiveness. If there were one safe, effective way to lose weight, then the others would be out of business," says Marilyn Wann, author of Fat! So?

  7. Have regular checkups.  Follow your doctor’s orders and if you feel any of the warning signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1!

    • Chest discomfort (Discomfort can include one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sweating
    • Nausea
    • Lightheadedness

Eating right, exercising, and living a healthy life style has been drilled into our heads for decades. To get started you have to take small steps and set realistic goals. It’s proven that diets don’t work. It’s really about portion control.  This month is about heart health. Here is a heart-healthy recipe to try. Good luck!

Take Care!

Your friends in Occupational Medicine

Heart-Healthy Recipe

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

            1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix

            1 (6 pound) bone-in turkey breast

            ½ c water in bottom of slow cooker


  1. Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry. Cut off any excess skin, but leave the skin covering the breast. Rub onion soup mix all over outside of the turkey and under the skin. Place in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on High for 1 hour, then set to Low, and cook for 7 hours.

PS -- If anyone from the Lab is participating in Live Healthy Iowa, we'd like to know about your team and how you're doing!