High blood pressure is a “silent killer”

Healthy Heart Habits: Life’s Simple 7

As you started into the new year, did you resolve to have healthier habits? Many people do. But a long-term study found that Americans are not doing as well as they were 20 years ago in maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle.1 And that increases their chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.2

Life’s Simple 7. In the study, the percentage of Americans who met all these heart-healthy lifestyle goals—what the American Heart Association calls Life’s Simple 7—dropped from 8.5 percent to 5.8 percent:

  • Eat a balanced diet.healthy heart month blood pressure ad
  • Be active.
  • Manage your weight.
  • Don’t use tobacco.
  • Maintain ideal levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Best for women. In the past, it was thought that hormones protected women from heart disease until menopause. Now we know that’s not the case. But two recent studies show that there may be subtle differences in what’s best for women and men.

In one study, women who followed these six habits cut their risk of heart attack by a whopping 92 percent.3                             

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI).
  • Exercise—moderately to vigorously—at least 2.5 hours a week.
  • Watch no more than seven hours of TV each week.
  • Drink no more than one alcoholic beverage each day.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish or omega-3 fatty acids. Limit sugary drinks, processed and red meats, trans fats, and sodium.

Even women who adopted just one or two of these healthy habits lowered their heart risk, with a normal BMI having the greatest impact.

Best for men. A Swedish study tracked 20,000 men and found that men with the following habits cut their risk of heart attack by 86 percent:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink no more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Stay physically active, for example, walking or cycling at least 40 minutes a day.
  • Maintain a waist circumference of less than 37 inches.3

For men, healthy diet and moderate drinking appeared to have the most impact on reducing their heart risks.

Know your numbers. So where should you begin? One place to start is to know your numbers. That includes blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure—as well as your weight. The next step is to talk with your doctor about ways to improve.

I can also give you tips on tracking—and improving—these critical numbers. For example, if you want to track your blood pressure at home, I’ll advise you on how best to do that. Remember: High blood pressure is a “silent killer,” so the only way to know whether or not it’s lurking is to check it.

  • In fact, nearly 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure. And, nearly half don’t have it under control with either lifestyle habits or medication.2 If your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication, be sure to take it. For some people, that’s the only way to keep it at bay. And, don’t forget to check your blood pressure, especially when you are not feeling well. Having a blood pressure unit at home is inexpensive and needed, especially when taking blood pressure medications.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.


  1. HealthDay: Fewer Americans Than Ever Sticking to Heart-Healthy Lifestyle, Study Finds. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155611.html Accessed 12-11-15.
  2. HealthDay: Nearly Half of Americans with High Blood Pressure Not Controlling It: CDC: Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155688.html Accessed 12-11-15.
  3. WebMD: Top Healthy Habits for Your Heart. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20150107/healthy-heart-habits Accessed 12-11-15.




Bathroom Safety

You may think of it as your hygiene haven, but your bathroom has the potential to be an accident trap, especially for the younger or older members of your family. A few of the leading causes of fatal injuries in homes are falls, poisonings, and drownings. The bathroom is often the scene of the “crime.2013-09-27 10.35.52” With a few simple precautions, however, you can greatly reduce the risks.

Although a soapy tub or wet floor can pose a slip-and-trip hazard for anyone, seniors are at greatest risk. Among people age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of death from injury.  The risk is six times greater for people older than 75. Here’s where you can start to lower those risks: Replace loose throw rugs with nonslip bath mats, and bar soap with a liquid soap dispenser. Refrain from waxing floors, and make sure to clean up water spills right away. Install grab bars in tubs and showers and near toilets. It might be worth having a professional do this for you. A bathtub bench or shower chair and raised toilet seat can greatly help people in your family with mobility problems. Finally, use nightlights to reduce the risk of falls during those inevitable middle-of-the night bathroom visits.

Six thousand people die and 300,000 suffer serious illnesses from accidental poisonings each year. Yet, according to the State of Home Safety in America, 82 percent of families don’t secure their medications. One of the best precautions you can take is to keep medication lids tightly closed at all times and to store medications in a lockable cabinet. Be sure to also add the following to a locked cabinet: mouthwashes, nail polish and remover, hair dye and sprays, cosmetics, and cleansers, as well as sharp objects such as razor blades and nail scissors. Remember: many children are climbers and can reach a high medicine cabinet in an instant, using the toilet and sink as their “stepping stones.”

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, hot water scald burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than any other burns from hot liquids. Hair curlers, curling irons, and space heaters are other common causes of burns. Take heart. You can help prevent these kinds of accidents. First, set your water thermostat to 120 degrees F or below. Before bathing a baby, test the water temperature with your wrist or elbow. Consider buying a faucet cover to pad a hot faucet and install childproof knobs to prevent young children from turning on water in a tub or sink.

To prevent other accidents in the bathroom, keep electrical appliances, such as hair dryers, away from water and stored up high when not in use. Keep space heaters out of the bathroom. Make sure your bathrooms are protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). These ground an appliance if it comes into contact with water. Also cap your electrical outlets with childproof safety covers. Finally, never ever leave a small child alone in a bathtub—not even to answer the phone or door.

At my Health Mart pharmacy, we can help you make your bathroom safer for every member of your family. Look for a selection of quality, cost-effective home safety products. If you can’t find what you need, come talk to me and we can order it for you.

Sue Graafstra – Medical Equipment Specialist – Pharm A Save Monroe

A Heath Mart Pharmacy