Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Hearts

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, we shouldn’t stop thinking about our hearts. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services working every day to lower the incidence of heart disease — the number one killer of Americans — we each have a duty to educate ourselves and take action!
So, how do you get started to keep your heart healthy? Following proven, simple steps and making changes in your life can combat heart disease and protect your heart health. Start with your diet: Research has proven a healthy diet goes a long way toward healthy hearts. Here are some tips to get you started (especially now that those Valentine’s Day chocolates are gone!):

1. Think twice on the carbs — Recent studies suggest that eating high amounts of refined carbs can increase blood pressure, a real risk factor for heart disease. Switch out those super white starches with heart-healthy whole grains such as whole-grain wheat bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, steel-cut oats, etc.

2. The heart loves fruits and veggies — Fruits and vegetables have so many beneficial nutrients that it would take forever to explain them all. Let’s focus on just one for now though, potassium. This mineral helps blood vessels relax. You should be getting approximately 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. For reference, one banana, one of the best sources of potassium, yields about 422 milligrams. Other heart-healthy, potassium-packed foods include apricots, prune juice, cantaloupe, spinach and sweet potatoes.

3. Watch that sodium — Sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, and adding it into your food is a silly mistake. There are lots of other flavor enhancers besides salt. Think of all the different flavors you can experiment with in place of piling salt on.

4. Lose that extra weight — Losing weight will lower your blood pressure and alleviate some of the stress your heart is dealing with. The good thing is the first three tips will all help you lose weight. You’re already on your way, just get moving!

Other things that can affect the heart are exercise, alcohol intake and cigarettes. For more facts, research and information, visit the American Heart Association’s website.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Be One in a Million this American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, a great time to take action against cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in the United States. One in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to roughly 2,200 deaths per day. The good news is that the public health community at the federal, state and local levels can help prevent deaths from heart disease and stroke by working together to make more heart-healthy choices.

Million Hearts™ is a bold national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Take the Million Hearts™ Challenge Today

Through Million Hearts™, public and private partners are working together to make it easier for Americans to protect their hearts. Some examples include:

• The Mississippi Department of Health is providing free, automated blood pressure monitors to people at high risk and teaching “the how and why” of control.

• The American Medical Association is tracking Million Hearts™ progress through its systems for measuring patient health.

• The Y is expanding its Diabetes Prevention Program in recognition that preventing diabetes prevents CVD.

• CDC awarded more than $100 million to 61 states and communities serving 120 million Americans for local efforts to prevent CVD.

• Physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, and the professional societies they lead, are focusing on getting the ABCS right with each patient who needs Aspirin due to high risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by understanding the risks and taking action. Take the Million Hearts™ pledge at and commit to making change that will prevent heart attack and stroke: Know your ABCS; make your calories count by eating a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat; and, be active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Together, we can all be one in a million this Heart Month and every month.

Janet Wright, M.D.
Executive Director, Million Hearts

Friday, February 10, 2012

Preventing the Spread of Disease in the Workplace

Stopping the spread of communicable disease is a key theme of APHA’s 2012 National Public Health Week.  Communicable diseases are defined as any illness that can be spread from one individual to another through the air, direct contact, or contaminated food and water.  Each year, one million Americans die from preventable disease; however there are simple ways to halt the spread of disease. With many adults spending nearly a quarter of their time at work, it is essential to remember that practicing healthy habits and disease prevention is not limited to the home.  By focusing on preventing the spread of communicable disease one workplace at a time, we can come one step closer to achieving National Public Health Week’s goal of longer, healthier, and happier lives for every American.

Here are some easy healthy habits for employers and employees to help halt the spread of disease at work:
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the work day (not just at lunch) to help continually flush toxins out of the immune system
  • Wash your hands often. After using the restroom. Before eating food. After sneezing or coughing. Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable disease.  If possible, stay at home when you are sick. This may prevent others from contracting your illness and may help you reach a faster recovery
  • Cover your hands and face when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with sick co-workers
  •  Promote a flu shot campaign or provide influenza vaccines to help employees avoid the illness during flu season
  • Reduce contamination and avoid food borne illnesses by using safe practices such as proper handling, refrigeration and hand washing techniques before consumption
  • Provide and encourage the utilization of alcohol hand sanitizer to eliminate germs that may be left behind by soap-and-water hand washing 

For more tips on preventing the spread of disease, check out the National Public Health Week’s communicable disease theme page and the Get Ready Campaign’s hand washing fact sheet .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Join the Movement of National Public Health Week 2012!

Big news today! APHA is bringing you the theme for National Public Health Week 2012 – “A Healthier America Begins Today.” This theme emphasizes APHA’s belief that through prevention, we can all profoundly impact America’s health. National Public Health Week 2012 broadly focuses on preventative measures related to healthy eating/active living, communicable diseases, reproductive health, and emotional well-being. So, join us as we celebrate NPHW 2012 from April 2-8; and remember, there are so many ways that health advocates like you can contribute to preventive health during NPHW 2012.

Starting today, think about how you can implement prevention strategies at work, at home, during recreation, or even throughout your community; every day is a new opportunity to be a part of great change! The new
2012 NPHW website has been launched, and we are ecstatic to be moving closer and closer to an incredible week. Visit us at While there, you can download logos, wall papers, talking points, find an event in your area using our interactive map of events, sign up to become a member, and so much more.

Here are a few ideas on how to contribute:

  • Host a National Public Health Week event. Be creative--Is there a health issue you think can be addressed better through prevention? People want to know!

  • Identify officials who have been vocal on issues related to prevention and invite them to partner in a community event.

  • If you’ve got something to say, we want to hear it. Share your thoughts by including #NPHW in your tweet.

  • Reach out to local media. Submit a letter to the editor about the importance of focusing on prevention in order to address America’s health problems. Highlight the stories of local heroes who have made a real difference in prevention strategies.

  • Partner with a local college or university to promote public health student day, April 6, 2012.

So join the movement and remember, a healthier America begins today!