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heart health

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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Debbie Phelps, Michael’s Mom, on the Olympics, Heart Health and Challenging Her Son in the Pool

Written on February 10, 2012 at 9:41 am , by

Debbie and her medal-winning son, Michael. (Photo courtesy of The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection Fashion Show 2012, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

There is one strong mom cheering from the stands when 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps dives into the pool. Debbie Phelps was an athlete in her own right in high school and still enjoys keeping fit. And as a Subway Famous Fan, alongside her son, Debbie enjoys supplementing all that action with a healthy diet. “I love my milk, veggies and protein, but have to have a little bit of ice cream! It’s all about moderation,” Phelps says, with a laugh.

We caught up with the mom of three on Wednesday right before she walked in The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection Fashion Show in New York City to learn more about her first trip down the runway and whether she’d ever challenge her son to a lap race.

How does it feel to be a model?

Walking in a fashion show has been an item on my bucket list, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity. I feel elegant and sophisticated in the beautifully-beaded Adrianna Papell dress.

Do you ever exercise with Michael?

No way! As Michael’s mom, I feel that the safest place for me is not in the pool. I gravitate to the treadmill and StairMaster upstairs! I’m not afraid of the water but when I was growing up, the pool was a place for fun, not competition.

How are you and Michael feeling about the upcoming Olympic Games in London this summer?

It feels like we were just in Beijing! We’re so excited. It is bittersweet and emotional, though, that his goggles and Speedo will be hung up after the London Games. Michael has brought awareness to the sport and has shown such drive and dedication. We hope to take our grandchildren with us to watch.

Read more

Minka Kelly Shares Her Heart Healthy Fitness and Diet Tips

Written on February 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm , by

Minka Kelly at The Heart Truth® Red Dress Collection Fashion Show presented by Diet Coke

Esquire Magazine once named actress Minka Kelly the “Sexiest Woman Alive”, so walking in the Heart Truth’s Red Dress Fashion Show to raise awareness for women’s heart health should be a breeze, right? Not quite. “I’ve been nervous all week!” Kelly said, when we got the chance to chat with her on her new ambassador title with Diet Coke. We caught up with the brunette bombshell hours before showtime to get the scoop on how she lives a heart healthy lifestyle, the exercises she swears by, and more.

Tell us about your partnership with Diet Coke and Heart’s Truth Red Dress Fashion Show. What made you decide to get involved?

Before I started working with Diet Coke as an ambassador, I wasn’t even aware that heart disease is the number one killer for women. I figured this would be a chance for me to use my voice and let other women know to how important it is to eat right and exercise to keep your heart in good health.

How do you manage stay in shape, especially with such a busy schedule?

I try to do yoga every morning at 7 a.m.; it’s good to get your workout out of the way early.  I also work out with my trainer Gunnar Peterson two days a week on top of that. I owe him a lot of credit for the shape I’m in because I love to eat! I have to workout extra hard to balance my love for food out.

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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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Fit Links: Build a Better Resolution and Make Gym Trips Easier

Written on December 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm , by

Resolution rule number one: Don't set six lofty goals at once. (Photo by Reggie Casagrande)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Hot Debate: Can You Be Fat AND Fit?

Written on December 2, 2011 at 11:28 am , by

overweight with dumbbells

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach, SparkPeople.com

Lori, a client of mine, recently called me angry, upset and discouraged. She had just returned from her yearly physical, which she had been eagerly anticipating.  Even though she hadn’t reached her weight-loss goal, Lori had made many lifestyle changes to promote good health:  She had begun exercising on a regular basis, made some subtle shifts in her dietary habits that made her feel better, and had even begun a weekly yoga/meditation class to manage stress.

The results of the physical demonstrated her efforts had been paying off.  Her blood pressure was in the normal level for the first time in years, her blood sugars had dropped, and her cholesterol profile had greatly improved. However, once the exam was complete and she was sitting with her physician in his office, rather than commenting on the improvements, he stated, “Lori, I was really hoping you would have dropped a lot more weight since our last visit.  If you don’t get serious about taking off the extra pounds, your risk of early disease will continue.  Have you tried dieting?”

There is a presumption that if an individual is overweight they are also unhealthy.  Research clearly supports that being overweight is a major health risk factor, contributing to an increase in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and many types of cancer.  So can we assume that if you are hauling around extra pounds that classify you as overweight, it will destine you to a future filled with illness and disease?

Not necessarily. An intense debate has emerged in the last few years amongst obesity researchers, asking the question, “Can people be overweight but still be healthy?”  Is the number on the scale the only thing that counts, or should we take other factors into consideration?  Scientists are now dueling over the relative importance of “fatness vs. fitness” when it comes to determining the health of an overweight individual.

A small but vocal group of researchers have been…

Read the entire column here…

And then tell us below: Are you or do you know someone who is overweight but in better health than a skinny person? What are your opinions on if an overweight person can be healthy?

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5 Sneaky Habits That Sabotage Your Heart

Written on November 18, 2011 at 8:15 am , by

Heart Hands

Photo courtesy of Spark People

We all know that for optimum heart health we need to eat a healthy diet, exercise and not smoke. But little things you do every day can also have a big impact on the most important muscle in your body. Are you guilty of any of these seemingly innocent mistakes?

1. You fly off the handle. Do you suffer from regular bouts of rage or intense anger at home, at work or in traffic? If so, your angry temperament may be hurting more than the people around you. While moderate anger can be a good way to release tension, explosive anger or chronic bouts of rage can increase your risk of heart disease. Anger and anxiety have been shown to increase blood pressure, disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart and possibly speed up the process of atherosclerosis, a fatty build up in the arteries.

2. You sleep too much (or too little). Getting fewer than five—or more than nine—hours of sleep a night can hurt your heart because both extremes elevate blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. In fact, the Nurses’ Health Study of more than 71,000 women, ages 45 to 65, found that sleeping five or fewer hours each night increased the risk of coronary disease by a whopping 45%. Those who regularly slept nine or more hours had a 38% greater risk than those who slept eight hours—even after taking snoring and smoking in account.

3. You don’t floss regularly. You may think that regular flossing just helps keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape, but research shows that dental disease and cardiac health are correlated. Researchers believe that inflammation from gum disease allows bacteria to enter your mouth’s blood vessels, travel into the coronary artery vessels, and narrow their passages. This reduces blood flow, which hurts the heart. In fact, people with coronary artery disease are 38% more likely to also have gum disease. While research is still being done in this area, it’s best to keep that mouth healthy!

4. You see the glass as half empty. Looking on the bright side isn’t just about improving your mental state; it’s also a boon to your heart. In a groundbreaking 2009 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation, researchers found that not only did optimism seem to protect against heart disease and death but also that pessimism seemed to increase the risk. Pessimists were more likely than optimists to have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and suffer from depression (which has also been linked to poor heart health). Cynics are also more likely to be overweight, smoke and avoid exercise. All reason to start focusing on what’s good in life, right?

5. You think secondhand smoke is no big deal. While the association between tobacco use and heart disease is undeniable, did you know that secondhand smoke also harm your heart? Constant exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace or at home nearly doubles a person’s risk of having a heart attack.

Continued: 3 More Bad Habits for Your Heart. Plus: How to Combat All of These Saboteurs!

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Elizabeth Banks’ New Film: Funny, with Lots of Heart

Written on September 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm , by

Elizabeth (center) and the 2011 Go Red Women show some love. (Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images for AHA Go Red for Women)

Check out this funny Go Red for Women short film “Just a Little Heart Attack” that Elizabeth Banks directed and starred in to remind all women: A heart attack can happen to you.

Last night we were at the NYC premiere, where we got to meet the six amazing Go Red Women spokespeople for 2011. They reminded us that even very fit and health-conscious women are at risk. Check out their inspiring stories.

And don’t forget to watch Elizabeth’s film and pass it on to five ladies you love to remind them that heart disease is the number one killer of women.

The Truth About Alcohol and Heart Health

Written on September 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm , by


Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

The idea that alcohol may be good for your heart has been around for a while. (But while moderate drinking may offer health benefits, drinking more can cause a host of health problems.) Here’s what you need to know…

Research on Alcohol and Heart Disease
As research on this topic has continued to expand, researchers recently conducted another systematic review of 63 studies that examined adults without known cardiovascular disease before and after alcohol use. This latest meta-analysis was published in a 2011 issue of the British Medical Journal.

The analysis of these numerous studies suggests that moderate alcohol consumption (defined below) helps to protect against heart disease by:

  • Raising HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Increasing apolipoprotein A1, a protein that has a specific role in lipid (fat) metabolism and is a major component of HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Decreasing fibrinogen, a soluble plasma glycoprotein that is a part of blood clot formation
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing plaque accumulation in the arteries
  • Decreasing the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots

However, these studies did not show any relationship between moderate alcohol intake and total cholesterol level or LDL “bad” cholesterol. And while some studies associated alcohol intake to increased triglycerides, the most recent analysis of moderate alcohol intake in healthy adults showed no such relationship.

What’s the Definition of “Moderate” Alcohol Consumption?
A moderate alcohol intake is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol and is defined as:

  • 12 fl. oz. of regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 4-5 fl. oz. of wine (12% alcohol)
  • 1.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
  • 1 fl. oz. of 100-proof distilled spirits (50% alcohol)

Are Certain Types of Alcohol Better Than Others?
While a few research studies suggest that wine maybe more beneficial than beer or sprits in the prevention of heart disease, most studies do not support an association between type of alcoholic beverage and the prevention of heart disease. At present time, drinking wine for its antioxidant content to prevent heart disease is an unproven strategy. It still remains unclear whether red wine offers any heart-protecting advantage over white wine or other types of alcoholic beverages.

Continued: Get more  facts about your health and alcohol…

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Celebrate Heart-Health with Mom This Mother’s Day

Written on May 6, 2011 at 9:55 am , by

Actress Cheryl Hines with her mom, Rosemary Harbolt. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hines.

Actress Cheryl Hines with her mom, Rosemary Harbolt. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hines.

In our May issue, actress Cheryl Hines, spokesperson for Go Red for Women and a star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, shared some of the best health advice she’s gotten from her mom, Rosemary Harbolt. Her mom’s healthy wisdom: “If you’re stressed, take a deep breath and let it go.” Good advice! (We fact checked it: Mindful breathing helps people gain a healthier perspective on repetitive negative thoughts, a recent study found.)

Cheryl is a fit-minded lady we love because health is a topic close to her heart. After her father suffered a massive heart attack, Cheryl has been building a more heart-healthy lifestyle for herself and her daughter, and making it her personal mission to spread the word that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America.

We think Mother’s Day is the perfect time to join Cheryl in getting the message out to all the amazing moms and women we know. Click here to Tell 5 Friends how they can fight heart disease.

And visit the Go Red for Women Facebook page, where you can Tell Mom “Thanks” with a free Mother’s Day card through their sponsor, Macy’s.

Tell us: What health advice has your mom shared with you?