What a strange title for a Blog about how to reduce the incidence of heart attacks during the holidays. Prior to having Rottweilers as pets, as a health scientist formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I researched and often contributed to the body of knowledge concerning high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and how to prevent all of the above. A lot of people go on line for updates about health and wellness including how to prevent heart attacks. A popular resource, WebMD recently posted that ”
“We certainly know that there are certain risk factors for coronary artery disease. There’s obviously smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia [high cholesterol], diabetes, lack of exercise, and age,” says Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Since having our dogs we have noticed a strange occurrence. They, like the coyotes in the woods adjacent to our home in Stone Mountain, GA – howl when they hear sirens. Well at first (12 years ago) it would happen once in a while – perhaps several times a week. Now it happens about 12 times a day and that concerns me. Other than the loud noise of our three dogs and sometimes their cousins in the woods howling and disturbing my peace, it now, for me signals emergencies in my neighborhood – many of them possibly heart attacks due to poor diets and lifestyles of residents in my area. I see what people are buying in the local stores and I am all too familiar with the local health stats. So the scientist in me is curious about the correlation between dogs and coyotes howling with an increase in heart health risk factors in my community. They are actually howling as I type……
With the coming holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Years- there is a noticeable increase in the “noise” from our dogs. Over consumption of processed foods rich in fats, sugars, salts and devoid of nutrients – in addition to alcohol consumption place people at risk for increases in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and heart attacks during the holidays. People also tend to reduce physical activity while sitting around and sharing quality time with friends and family.
Here are some quick and fun tips that families can do to stay healthy over the holidays (and always!):
- Fresh fruit and veggie challenge: have a contest (everyone can put $5 -or more in a bowl) each time someone eats a fresh fruit, vegetable including fresh juice – they get a point. Some one must be designated to keep the spread sheet or everyone gets their own. At the end of the the holidays (or designated time period) the one with the most points receives the funds!
- Family walks: Every evening after dinner, the family can take a nice walk through the community or somewhere safe and with proper lighting. Family can be comprised of family units, neighbors, relatives etc to ensure safety and numbers.
- Learn new recipes that ensure nutrient rich food intake and reduced calories. Can also be structured as a contest. Be creative!
- Drink at least 8 glasses Alkaline or clean purified water daily. Make sure everyone in family has their own glass or BPA-free plastic bottle (glass is better though). Encourage water consumption throughout the day. Keep refilling throughout the day!
- Jumping jacks begin! If you are physically able, do group jumping jacks, jump-rope or bike-riding. Make family exercise a routine this holiday season and continue it as a tradition every day!
- Limit animal products and fats which have been proven to increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Turn off the television. In some homes it runs non-stop. If it is not on it forces you to get creative about how you spend your time. Being active burns calories. Just do something instead of sitting for hours!
- Get a copy of Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time for lots of additional health tips good for the entire family.
Dr. Imani Ma’at is a Health Scientist (formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 22 year) Author, Speaker, Radio Talk Show Host, Wellness Coach, and Creator of the Health Haiku Workshops Series.
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This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe any sickness or disease. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or other health care practitioner before starting any new health regiment or routine.