Tag Archives: heart health

Silent Signs of Heart Disease in Women

Women Heart Health Tips

Most people don’t realize that heart disease and stroke are the #1 killer of women. Many have the misconception that heart disease is a man’s disease, but the reality is that each year one in every three women will die of heart disease and stroke.

In honor of National Heart Month and GO RED for Women month, I am joining the movement to help women know the facts and that they can prevent heart disease. In fact, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.1

Get to Know the Facts

  • One of 3 women dies from heart disease, equal to the prevalence in men.
  • More women than men die from heart attacks and strokes.
  • Women typically develop cardiovascular symptoms about a decade later than men, and the disease is often riskier and more complicated to treat. Women are also more likely to be disabled after a heart attack or stroke.
  • At menopause, a woman’s heart diseaserisk starts to increase significantly, so start prevention before menopause.
  • 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • Women’s symptoms are often overlooked at emergency rooms, or doctors’ offices. That is why it is CRUCIAL for you to be in the know and to be pro-active if symptoms are present.
  • Women don’t have “typical” symptoms and symptoms do not always include chest pain. Commonly, the only symptom is extreme fatigue, or fatigue upon exertion or “just not feeling right.” You can see why this symptom is misdiagnosed. Fatigue can result from lack of sleep, lifestyle, allergies, colds, and many other conditions, but at times it is a sign of heart disease.

Recognize the Symptoms

Heart Attack

  • unexplained prolonged fatigue
  • chest discomfort , pressure or chest pain (not as severe as men’s)
  • pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw or stomach pain
  • shortness of breath, with or without exertion
  • light-headedness or headache
  • confusion
  • nausea or indigestion
  • sweating

Stroke

F.A.S.T. is an acronym used for the most common signs and symptoms of stroke. These signs tend to appear suddenly and every second matters so it’s crucial to act fast.

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does the face look uneven? Does one side droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down or is it unable to move?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange? Strange speech could be slurred, the wrong words may come out, or the person is unable to speak.
  • Time to call 9-1-1.

Understand the Risk Factors

Be alert to your risk status for heart disease. Each risk factor increases your risk. These include:

  • Age 55 or older – no matter how healthy you are
  • Smoking, which increases heart risk 7 times more in women than in men
  • Diabetes, which increases risk by 3-fold
  • Being overweight or having abdominal fat (a waist size over 35 inches)
  • African-American women over age 20 – almost 50% have heart disease
  • Hispanic women – who typically get heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women
  • High blood pressure – 1 in 3 women over age 65 have or will have HBP
  • Cholesterol over 200 – which means 70% of women
  • High triglycerides (blood fats) over 125
  • Sedentary living, including more than 10 hrs of TV a week
  • Menopause – at any age
  • Depression/stress (ups risk 2.5 times)
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Family history or personal history of a heart condition

Scary, isn’t it? How many risk factors do you have? Which can you reverse or control?

Here’s the good news: 80 percent of all heart disease is preventable and even reversible by making lifestyle changes in your eating and activity habits.  

We can all make changes. Be proactive! Do not wait for your doctor to tell you to eat fresh food or shed a few pounds. Rid your pantry of packaged foods with extra salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats. Vow to eat a heart-healthy diet that is plant-focused with lean proteins and liquid vegetable oils. Add salads, beans, nuts, fruit and wholegrains to your daily diet along with lean cuts of beef and pork and nonfat dairy foods. You can do this. Take a 30 minute brisk walk daily in your neighborhood, mall or gym. You can break it up into three 10-minute walks. It all starts with one step.

Making these changes, you will soon reap the benefits – improved, less inflamed arteries, better blood flow, lower blood fats and a lessened risk for heart attacks and stroke. The sooner you start, the better. The longer the damage continues, the tougher for you to turn around. Please take preventative, aggressive action. Every bite and every step count.

Start eating better and move more today. You are worth it!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the websites or any association with their operators.                                                        

1Source: The American Heart Association

Almonds – The Inside Scoop

Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of joining the Almond Board of California for an almond orchard tour. Next time I enjoy that almond crunch, I will think back on my time in the orchards where I came to appreciate the many steps taking one of my favorite nuts from the grove to the grocer!

Following is the inside scoop and key learnings from my almond orchard tour.

Growing Almonds

Almonds spend five months maturing on trees. They must be grown in the right climate – warm and dry – in order to produce well and that’s why California serves as the perfect environment to grow these nuts. In fact, California is home to 80 percent of the world’s almond production. The almonds are harvested in August, at which time they are hulled and shelled. The whole raw almonds are then prepared for shipment to food manufactures who dice, slice, sliver, roast, toast and blanch almonds for various foods and snacks.

Scientific Backing

New health benefits for almonds keep mounting. Four large prospective epidemiological studies – including the Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, the Physician’s Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Iowa Women’s Study – all link nuts to lower heart disease risk. Further, the British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study highlighting how consumption of nuts at least four times a week reduces risk of heart disease by 37 percent. The focus on nuts in the Mediterranean, DASH, and Portfolio diets also back the health benefits of these nuts, leading the American Heart Association to include almonds, pistachios and walnuts in their AHA Food Certification program.

Heart Health

What in almonds is cardio-protective? It’s the monounsaturated fats that help lower LDL-cholesterol and keep good HDL cholesterol high. Anti-oxidants, polyphenols, phytonutrients, flavonoids and Vitamin E work synergistically to keep blood vessels more elastic and block LDL oxidation, which hardens arterial plaque. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, anti-oxidants and arginine content are all responsible for helping to lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels and enhance blood flow. These nutrients combined with protein and fiber, work together to help control blood sugar. Almonds also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant components that prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The nutrient-richness of almonds means each almond packs a lot of nutrients that work with 20 or more powerful antioxidants (including flavonoids in almond skins), which synergistically work to confer these multiple benefits. To ensure your heart health while reducing risk of diabetes, eat almonds with other foods at meals or snack time.

Weight Loss

Almonds have even been shown to aid weight loss, too! Research suggests, almonds do this in two ways: 1) promoting satiety (long-lasting satisfaction), helping to reduce calorie intake by satisfying hunger; 2) promoting body fat loss. In fact, a study featured in Obesity found those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight over a 28-month period than those who did not eat nuts. Additionally, in a recent weight loss study, smaller waist circumferences were evident among those who included almonds in place of equivalent amounts of carbohydrates in their diets.

Breaking Health News


Almond lovers rejoice! Thanks to new methodology used to measure calorie value, researchers recently confirmed almonds have 30 fewer calories per oz. (23 almonds) than previously thought. Now, for a satisfying snack, almonds are just 130 calories instead of 160 calories per oz.

It’s hard to believe all these health benefits are packed into one little shell! You can try incorporating these special nuts into your day – morning, noon and night. Spread a little almond butter on your toast and sprinkle a handful of almonds on cereal or yogurt. Top your salad with a sprinkling of almond slivers or pop a handful of raw, unsalted almonds for an afternoon snack.

Enjoy the crunch!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Go Red for Heart Month! Show your Heart some TLC

Go red! You may recognize this American Heart Association’s Heart Month slogan, reminding us that heart disease is the top health threat to women, as well as men.

Go red! This is a great way to eat to prevent heart disease. Red foods contain plant nutrients called bioflavonoids and anthocyanins – both of which are heart-protecting natural blood thinners, anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents that protect arteries, blood vessels and our hearts. It is easy to eat red/orange at almost every meal – a fresh orange or berries at breakfast, with cereal or a shake, a red apple or tomato soup with a sandwich at noon, or tomatoes in a sandwich; at supper, a salad with tomato, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, radishes, California (red/green) lettuce – that’s six red foods right there. Sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, red grapes, all berries, red lettuces, red cabbage, eggplant are other ways Nature provides us with cardiovascular health.

Other simple, effective ways to enjoy heart health:

  • Eat heart-healthy – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, lean meat cuts, healthy oils (olive and canola oil, tub spreads, Smart Balance Heart Right spread with stanols and omega 3’s, pistachios, nuts, nonfat milk/yogurt; limit sugar and fatty foods, sodas, processed foods.
  • Exercise regularly – do good-for-the- heart aerobic activity 150 minutes a week; resistance training 2-3 times weekly ; and stretching for balance, flexibility, agility
  • Live a healthy lifestyle – get enough rest, relaxation; keep a healthy weight; don’t smoke; control alcohol ( at most: less than 1 drink daily for women; two for men)
  • Keep tabs of your blood cholesterol levels, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, omega 3 levels, c-reactive protein, homocysteine, vitamin D levels, blood pressure, blood sugar – all biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. Normalize your levels with lifestyle – eating, exercise, weight.
  • Pay attention to your waistline more than your total weight. Middle fat raises heart risk.

How does your diet rate? Would you like to lessen your need for cholesterol-lowering medications? You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and protect your arteries and heart with simple food strategies and weight management. Check out my website www.georgiakostas.com to learn more. Here’s to your happy heart!

Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.