Ladies: be good to your heart by controlling risks

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017

Ladies: be good  to your heart by controlling risks

In the old movie “Holiday Inn” Bing Crosby croons “be careful it’s my heart…” as the girl of his dreams dances behind his back in the arms of his ex-partner played by Fred Astaire as the plot thickens.  Of course it ends happily ever after with little damage done and everybody still friends.  If only love and hearts could be repaired so easily.
Ladies, we are faced with some rather unsettling facts when it comes to our hearts.  I’ve seen a very clever commercial on television recently that brings this to our attention.  A lady’s heart, appropriately dressed in red, comes up to her at work to hand in her resignation letter.  The heart wants to quit and explains that it feels ignored and unloved and needs more attention.
The person seems stunned that her heart is unhappy. The heart reminds her that they no longer go for walks or enjoy healthy foods together.  It makes a very valid point.  Our hearts need us to care for them.
Bad news:  Heart disease causes 1 in 3 of women’s deaths each year. That’s one woman every minute.  We get upset when breast cancer causes that many deaths but seem rather unconcerned that heart disease does too.  But the truth is that 90 percent of us have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.  Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. Sounds like we are not doing a good job taking care of our hearts.
What to do? Learn about it. There are three causes we cannot do anything about: (1) being a woman; (2) inherited risks (when it runs in the family); and (3) aging.  Everyone’s risk for heart disease increases as they get older.
Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Atherosclerosis is the condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Heart failure or congestive heart failure means that the heart is still working but it isn’t pumping blood as well as it should, or getting enough oxygen; arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm of the heart, means the heart is either beating too fast, too slow or irregularly. This can affect how well the heart is functioning and whether the heart is able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Heart valve problems can lead to the heart not opening enough to allow proper blood flow. Sometimes the heart valves don’t close and blood leaks through, or the valves bulge or prolapse into the upper heart chamber causing blood to flow backward through them.
Take it personally: First and most importantly is to believe that yes, heart disease can happen to me, you, any of us. And then control the risks that you can because heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended.  Already there are studies showing that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. So, make the needed lifestyle changes.
Don’t smoke: cigarette smoking more than doubles your risk of having a heart attack.  That’s enough reason to quit.  Or, never start…it’s really a very stupid thing to do.  Smoking will cause health problems.
Manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  All of these issues can be life threatening and increase your risks for heart disease when elevated.
Know your family history. If heart disease is in your family, see you doctor, and by all means, cut out all the other risks that you can.
Stay active.  Try to walk, run, swim or exercise, as you are able, at least 3 times every week, or even better go for at least 30 minutes daily.
Lose weight. Weigh at least three times weekly.  Cut portions and high calorie foods. Extra weight is dangerous.
Eat healthy: Include five or more fruits and vegetables daily; eat more apples, citrus fruit, oatmeal and beans for soluble fiber; have more whole grains; eat fewer processed foods, sweets, and less salt; more fish and less red meat.  Reduce portions; and stay hydrated.
Limit alcoholic drinks, which can also contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.
Be good to your heart…don’t let it quit on you.

Recipe of the Week

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Herbed Chicken Parmesan
Serve with angel hair pasta and a fresh spinach salad for a Valentine’s heart healthy meal.

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg white, divided
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 ½ cups fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce or similar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese

Combine 2 tablespoons parmesan, crumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.  Place egg white in another shallow dish. Dip each chicken tender in egg white, then dredge in crumb mixture.  Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken 3 minutes on each side or until done.  Set aside.  Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar and pepper in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave mixture on HIGH 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Pour sauce over chicken in pan.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan and the Provolone cheese. Broil 2 minutes in oven or until cheese melts. Makes 4 servings.