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American Heart Association

Prepare to Be a Hero During National CPR Week

Written on June 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm , by

Use this hand position while performing CPR. (Image courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Did you know…

  • Nearly 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States, accounting for 80 percent of total cardiac arrest cases.
  • About 90 percent of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene.
  • Only 41 percent of people who experience a cardiac arrest get the immediate help that they need before emergency help arrives.

For these reasons and more, the American Heart Association wants you to brush up on your skills now during National CPR Week (June 1-7). According to the AHA, CPR can double, and perhaps even triple, the likelihood of survival of someone whose heart has stopped. Think about it: if you do nothing, nothing has a chance to improve!

If you’re turned off by the traditional idea of CPR including mouth-to-mouth, fear not. Updated recommendations promote a hands-only method, which has only two steps:

  1. Call 9-1-1.
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”

Are you CPR-certified? If so, post the AHA’s hand image above on your social media accounts or share pictures of your own hands in the #CPRReady position. If not, stop sitting on the sidelines and find a course near you!

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What You Need to Eat to Be Heart-Healthy

Written on May 13, 2013 at 9:28 am , by

Boost heart health by indulging in seafood? You don’t have to tell us twice! (Photo courtesy of the National Fisheries Institute)

According to a recent statement made by the American Heart Association, heart failure costs are expected to more than double by 2030, potentially costing Americans a whopping $244 per year! Time is tickin’ to beat the rising heart disease incidence—the leading cause of death in women. Insert omega-3 fatty acids, which has proven study after study to reduce the risks. Opt for food sources of supplements, says New York University adjunct nutrition professor and FITNESS Advisory Board member Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D. It’s as easy peasy (and affordable) as cracking open a can of tuna—just two servings of seafood a week! Now isn’t that just fin-tastic?

Jazz up the versatile canned good with your favorite spices, Dr. Young suggests, and fold it into a cold pasta salad, wrap or form into burgers. Another great idea? Tasty crostinis made with thin baguette slices, fresh rosemary and Kalamata olives. No more fishing for heart health excuses. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that pairs perfectly with a glass of white for a summer soiree app. Your friends and heart will thank you later.

White Bean and Tuna Crostini
(Recipe courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian)
Makes 4 servings

  • 10 thin baguette slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can white kidney beans, drained
  • 1 5-ounce can chunk-light tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet; brush slices with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside. In a preheated skillet, cook onion, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the wine and simmer the mixture until the wine is reduced by half. In a food processor, purée the beans and the onion mixture and salt and pepper to taste, transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill it, covered, until it is cool. In a small bowl, toss together tuna, onion, olives, parsley, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.Spread bean puree among baguette slices and top with tuna salad. Garnish each with 1 small rosemary sprig.

For more recipe ideas and information on heart healthy fish, visit getrealaboutseafood.com.

Wear Red to Stop Your Number One Health Threat

Written on February 1, 2013 at 8:26 am , by

Wear red for your heart with Go Red for Women.

Are you wearing red today? February 1, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness and funding to fight heart disease. Heart disease remains the number one killer of American women, causing one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute. Symptoms of heart disease differ in women than men, so we chatted with Dr. Malissa J. Wood, MD FACC, Co-Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center Corrigan Women’s Health Program and a a Go Red for Women spokesperson. Here are her tips for keeping your ticker in top condition.

Quit smoking. “Even a small amount of nicotine can be detrimental to your cardio health.”

Exercise, exercise, exercise. “High blood pressure, being overweight, being sedentary, being stressed are all detrimental to you cardio health. Regular exercise is better than something you can take in a bottle because it helps with all of those risk areas.  Count your steps. It may be daunting to join a gym, but walking is free and something you can track. That’s a start if you’re sedentary. Aim for 5-7 hours of aerobic exercise per week and do weights twice a week.”

Reassess your nutrition. “Abs are not made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen. As we age and estrogen levels drop, we will get more weight around our middle, which is associated with a higher diabetes risk. Eating better helps prepare us for when our body starts to metabolize and store fat differently. Even fit women need to think about what you eat. As you age, your body will react differently to the things you’re able to eat in your 20s.” Read more

Entrepreneur Treks Across U.S. for American Heart Association

Written on August 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm , by

Justin plans to cycle across the country to help the American Heart Association. (Photo courtesy of Justin McClelland)

Written by Dionne Evans, editorial intern

Justin McClelland, a 31-year-old St. Lous entrepreneur, is taking a break from his usual life and moving to the open road. Today, he begins a cycling journey from New York City to Los Angeles. His mission: to raise awareness, and $10,000, for the American Heart Association.  We chatted with McClelland before he hopped in the saddle to find out what motivates him to keep going, and who he hopes to affect on this journey.

Have you done anything like this before?

I’ve never been a cyclist. I grew up liking BMX, but the bike I have right now is the first I’ve ever known.

How are you preparing, then?

The trip is 3,300 miles, so I’ll be traveling for 33 days – I plan on riding 100 miles per day. I’ve only done a couple of long rides so far, but I primarily do two-a-day workouts each day: I run for 30 minutes, get on the stationary bike for another 30 and jump rope for a final 30 minutes. I also do weight training for my upper body, lower body, and core. I’m conditioning myself to be active daily, but I don’t want to burn myself out on the bike before the actual ride happens.

Were you really active before taking on this challenge?

I’ve always been very active. The last three weeks hasn’t been that big of a jump for me. Before, I worked out once a day. I’ve lived a pretty active lifestyle for as long as I can remember.

Do you know what your stops will be, or can people follow along?

I’m going through the midwest, mostly on back roads and rural highways. I don’t have a strict schedule because I didn’t want one to get in the way of enjoying the ride.  But for some semblance of order, I’m aiming to cover 100 miles a day. I’ll be tweeting and blogging throughout the trip at my website, iHeartCardio, and then I’ll compose a documentary about the entire experience after it’s all done.

Read more

How Do You Eat a Heart-Smart Diet?

Written on March 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm , by

The Heart-Check mark appears on foods that are good for your ticker. (Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association)

March 1 marks more than the start of a new month—it’s the beginning of a 31-day celebration of healthy eating. Welcome to National Nutrition Month! You’ll discover delicious recipes, food news and simple nutrition-boosting strategies to help you celebrate in style all month long here at The Fit Stop.

To kick things off, let’s talk food shopping. We know that it’s smart to shop in the produce aisle and save cookies for treats, but the gray area between these ends of the grocery spectrum can be tricky! That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) awards their Heart-Check mark to food products that meet their requirements as cardiac-friendly.

“It’s an easy way to identify, on the front of a package, heart-healthy foods,” says Rachel Johnson, R.D., PH.D., an AHA spokesperson and a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont. “The science-based criteria takes into account fat, sugar, sodium and a number of other factors. It’s really helpful because you don’t need a Ph.D. in nutrition to know if a food is healthy or not.”

To respond to the most recent research, new guidelines will go into place by 2014. Sodium and added sugar limits will be lowered and the total fat limit will be raised to accommodate products with healthy unsaturated fats, like nuts and oily fish.

Of course, there are many foods and drinks out there that are super-nutritious and don’t need a label to tell you (Strawberries! Oats! Water!). Follow these general guidelines from the AHA to consume a heart-healthy diet:

  • 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables or more daily
  • Two 3.5-ounce servings of oily fish (such as salmon, tuna or mackerel) weekly
  • Three 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily
  • Less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily
  • No more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages weekly (less is better)

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Stamp Your Way to Heart Health

Written on February 14, 2012 at 9:51 am , by

Photo courtesy of USPS

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

It’s Valentine’s Day and we all know what that means—a day filled with flowers, cards and showing others just how much you care for them. But remember, you need to show yourself a little love too! February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association has released a one-of-a-kind Heart Health Forever Stamp to remind you how to be heart-healthy.

In addition to a new design, the stamps also come with heart-health prevention tips. Each sheet includes suggestions for how to eat well, manage stress, fit in exercise and successfully deal with health screenings.

“Prevention is the key to eliminating heart attacks and strokes,” U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D said at a recent press event. “We are giving Americans information and tools to make healthier choices to prevent tobacco use, access healthy food and find enjoyable ways to get regular exercise.”

There are 50 million of the 45-cent stamps available nationwide for sale in sheets of 20. Purchases can be made at most post offices, or at usps.com/shop.

And don’t forget to tune into weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser tonight: Benjamin and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe have teamed up with the popular show to help spread the word about these heart-helpful stamps. A new “Watch it. Write it. Win it,” 11-week sweepstakes launches during the show and amazing prizes are up for grabs: an all-expense paid trip to the Biggest Loser Ranch, four weeks of Biggest Loser-prepared meals delivered straight to your door, or two tickets (plus airfare!) to the show’s season 13 finale. All viewers have to do is send letters of encouragement to their favorite The Biggest Loser contestant(s). The more you send, the better the odds of winning—as long as they arrive separately and addressed to one contestant at a time, one letter guarantees one entry and there is no submission limit. Time to put your writing skills to the test!

For more information about the sweepstakes, visit usps.com/biggestloser.

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How Heart Disease Survivor Star Jones Stays In Shape

Written on February 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm , by

Star Jones opened up about her heart disease history at the Macy's Go Red event on Friday.

Two years ago, Star Jones woke up on an operating room bed after undergoing open heart surgery at ago 47. “They took my heart out, stopped it for 22 minutes and put it back in—although some people from the Celebrity Apprentice don’t think they did put it back!” Jones says.

The lawyer, author and TV correspondent co-hosted the National Go Red for Women Red Dress Dash on Friday at Macy’s in New York City with actress Elizabeth Banks and former Project Runway competitor and fashion stylist Nick Verreos. Jones, Banks and Verreos teamed up to increase awareness about the number one killer of women: heart disease. After the event, we caught up with Jones, who raised more than $160,000 for the American Heart Association (AHA) during her fifth place finish on last season’s Celebrity Apprentice, to get her top three tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle. You may want to take notes—wise lifestyle choices can reduce your heart disease risk by as much as 80 percent, according to the AHA!

  1. Eat your heart out. While Jones made big nutritional changes after her weight loss surgery in 2003, open heart surgery inspired her to clean up her diet even more. “I lowered my sodium intake and eat a high-protein diet,” Jones says. She avoids processed breads and sweets and now satisfies her bacon cravings with turkey rather then pork.
  2. Keep raising the bar. “Since my surgery, I gave up my sedentary lifestyle and do a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day. For 2012, my goal is to include at least three days a week of high-intensity cardio. Right now, I’m loving SoulCycle because I feel like I’m pushing my heart as much as possible, and I’m really pushing myself in every way,” Jones says. She found an instructor she loves, which makes attending class even more fun. “I feel good every time I walk in the door of the studio and every time I walk out,” she adds.
  3. Sneak in exercise. Rather than relying solely on the 45-minute group exercise class as the way to challenge her heart and burn calories, Jones builds fitness into her day. “I walk the 12 blocks to the SoulCycle studio before class and walk the 12 blocks back home after,” Jones says. “It’s like a built-in workout!”

To learn more about Go Red for Women and take your cardiac vital stats, click here.

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Breathe New Life Into Home-Cooked Dinners

Written on October 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm , by

Written by Alyssa Belanger, editorial intern

The AHA wants to help you avoid kitchen mishaps. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Truth: How often do you really cook in your kitchen?

About 17 percent of American children ate meals outside of their home in 1970, but today at least half of all U.S. food expenditures are accounted for in away-from-home eating, the American Heart Association reports. While it is possible to eat out and lose weight, it’s much easier to control the ingredients and cooking methods when you whip up a dish in your own home.

That’s why the AHA launched Simple Cooking with Heart, which aims to “equip American families with basic culinary skills along with nutrition knowledge so they can know how to cook and eat at home,” says American Heart Association spokeswoman Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D.

The program, funded by the Walmart Foundation, offers a number of resources on their website to inspire nutritious and fun home-cooked meals. You can find video cooking demonstrations, recipes, tips and a downloadable “Host Kit” with everything you need to host a dinner party (think invitation templates, party games and shopping lists).

One of the ideas we’re planning to try first? “Traveling” with friends to the Far East through a heart-healthy meal of Asian Cole Slaw and Asian-Style Noodles. Paper lanterns, chop sticks and other fun and inexpensive items from a party store can make a simple meal festive!

This veggie-filled side comes together in minutes. (Photo courtesy of the AHA)

Asian Cole Slaw Recipe

Serves 6


  • 1 12-ounce bag shredded cabbage (green or purple)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded, sliced in to thin sticks
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 5 medium green onions, sliced
  • 12 leaves washed fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil


  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic minced from jar or 1 clove minced
  • 3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons white sugar, granulated
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all vegetables in a bowl, toss.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.
  3. Pour over vegetable mixture and toss to coat.

Nutrition facts per serving: 42 calories, 1 g fat

For more recipe ideas, cooking tips and heart health facts visit the American Heart Association website.