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Holidays = More Heart Attacks?

The Holidays are among us!  It all fun and games and no stress…right?  Well, maybe if you are 6 years old!  Studies show that stress is greatly increased between Thanksgiving and New Years; but I am guessing this is no surprise to you; as it was not to me.  But how bad is the stress?  According to  Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, Heart Institute, Good Samaritan Hospital and the American Heart Association:

When we plotted daily rates of death from ischemic heart disease in Los Angeles County during November, December, and January, we were struck by an increase in deaths starting around Thanksgiving, climbing through Christmas, peaking on New Year’s Day, and then falling…

So how do you avoid becoming next years statistic?

1. Plan ahead.

Part of the problem is our financial obligations.  We have our little budgets planned for each month and try to stick to them through the year.  When Christmas comes around our budgets go off track and we are left with more month than money.  So what if we saved for Christmas all year long?  Its as simple as saving $20 every pay period or $10 a week.  This would give you $520 to start shopping with!  I know for me that would be a good chunk of gifts for children and family.

2. Perfection

People tend to want their Christmas day to be perfect.  This is impossible!  There are going to be cranky children, food may be a little cold or a little burned, relatives are going to show up late…and the list can go on.  But lets step back and think about last year, better yet; ask your kids about last year.  Do they remember what gifts they got or do they remember the drive you took to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights.  For me personally, the kids could not remember one toy they got last year….ugh!  But they did remember walking through the local churches live nativity.  They remembered how funny it was when the tree fell down because the cat tried to climb our fake tree (was not funny then).  Truth is, make memories out of the craziness that is the holidays.  Most memories can be changed from stressful to funny depending on how you react to it and your decision to go with the flow.  So try and stress less about your retail perfection and relax and enjoy the holidays.

3. Less is More

Yep!  Less is defiantly More!  You don’t have to spend so much money on everyone or make so much food.  When I am making my Christmas Day “food plan” I tend to go overboard.  Breakfast consists of pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, and fruit.  As soon as we are done and stuffed, its time to clean up and make the Christmas lunch meal which consists of yams, mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, stuffing, and don’t forget desert!  By the time I am done slaving in the kitchen on lunch and setting out the food I am exhausted; and everyone is still full from breakfast.  So the disappointment begins…

The holidays don’t need to cause a heart attack…a memory no one will forget next year.  So avoid the stress, plan for next year starting New Years; only $20 a paycheck, and remember less is more in the holidays!

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse

The Ups and Downs of Arrhythmia

heart arrhythmiaFirst, what is a heart arrhythmia?

The heart has a perfect beat, not to fast, not to slow…if it wavers off, it is considered an arrhythmia; simple as that!  There are different kinds of arrhythmia’s, but lets keep it simple.

–  Tachycardia: heart is to fast.

–  Bradycardia: heart is to slow.

Arrhythmia’s are then identified by where they are happening in the heart; atria or ventricles.

You can have an atrial or ventricular arrhythmia.

Don’t get me wrong, this is very simplified, there are many other layers, but this is the basics.

Now, why does all of this matter?

Well, when your heart is not working correctly oxygen is not pumped to your major organs such as your brain.  This is when a condition with such a crazy name becomes as simple as life or death.    So how do we know if we are at risk of having a heart arrhythmia that will challenge your health?

A heart attack is the most important factor making someone a prone suspect.

If you have suffered a heart attack you are probably under doctor care and have regular EKG’s to monitor your heart.  But what if you have not had such a severe warning, what are some signs or symptoms?

–  fainting or dizziness

–  dificulty breathing

–  fatigue

–  “fluttering heart” feeling

–  flopping in your chest

–  thumping in your chest

–  chest pain

These are just a few, and if you suspect any of them, please seek medical help to begin monitoring your health.  There are many ways to treat and manage an arrhythmia.  Some are medications, pacemakers and keeping a record of your pulse.  Above all when in doubt follow your gut and see your doctor…then follow his/her advice.

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse


Benefits of Donating Blood…for the Donor?!?

Yes! You heard me correct, there are many benefits of donating blood; especially for men and post menopausal women!
We all know that donating blood is very beneficial to the recipients.  But do you know how much?  Check this out…

Benefits of donating blood

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.  Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

So what are the benefits of donating blood?    When you are donating blood, you are removing some of the iron the blood has in it. High iron levels in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Iron is known to speed the oxidation process of cholesterol, which is thought to possibly increase damage to your (very important) arteries.  This can lead to the all know CVD; cardiovascular disease and make you more susceptible to a heart attack, stroke, etc. Men who donate benefit even more than women simply because women have monthly mensuration which releases iron.

According to Victor Herbert, M.D in a CNN article., a hematologist at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, there are normally about 1,000 milligrams of iron stored in the average adult mans body but only about 300 milligrams in a premenopausal womans. Once women stop menstruating, however, their iron levels and their heart disease risk begin to climb, eventually matching that of men.

So how does donating blood work?  I have to be honest, I have never donated…and I have blood type…wait for it…O-.  Yep, most needed, most often in short supply, and if that was not enough, here comes my guilt…

  • Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O-negative blood type. O-negative blood type donors are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.
  • Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns who need blood.
  • Children being treated for cancer, premature infants and children having heart surgery need blood and platelets from donors of all types, especially type O-.

They had me at newborns…

No worries, I am making the trip to the blood bank!

So here is how it all works; or so they tell me.  Guess I will find out soon enough.

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.
  • A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law.

I could not believe it!  The actual needle part only takes 10 to 15 minutes!  I had no idea; they should advertise this.

So let me get this straight… I donate, I loose iron I don’t need, gain heart health, get a free physical, free snacks, (adult time…I am a mom of 3 wonderful children), and I could save up to 3 lives…why have I not done this.  After all I have been through labor 3 times; this has to be easier!

Well, I hope to see you there!

Donating blood

Have a Heart Healthy Day!
Kristi Krouse