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.
· 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.
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: Accessed 12-11-15.
2. HealthDay: Nearly Half of Americans with High Blood Pressure Not Controlling It: CDC: Available at: Accessed 12-11-15.
3. WebMD: Top Healthy Habits for Your Heart. Available at: Accessed 12-11-15.

This article comes from the Health Mart Consumer Wellness Tips column.


Too hot? Too cold? Just right!

Here’s something you may not give a second thought: “Climate control” for your medications. Those little pills (or liquids) may appear untouched by the environment. But they’re not. Extreme heat or cold can make a big difference in how well your medications work.1 Proper storage is key. Here are a few things you should know.

When you receive a medication, check to see if there are specific instructions about storage. Know which need refrigeration, if any. If none do, follow these general guidelines. Store medications:

·         In their original container

·         At room temperature (59°F to 86°F)

·         Away from moisture

·         Protected from light1

At home. At home, a good storage spot might be a locked dresser drawer or kitchen shelf—not in a bathroom medicine cabinet, next to the stove, or on a countertop where the sun comes streaming in. Both bathrooms and kitchens not only get hot at times, but can also be very high in humidity.2

Keep all medications in the same place, except for those that need refrigeration. Be sure that your fridge’s temperature setting isn’t too high. That can put medication at risk of freezing. Insulin is an example of a drug that needs cooler temperatures. Keep unopened insulin vials, cartridges, and prefilled pens in the fridge at a temperature between 36°F to 46°F. Once punctured, however, most types of insulin can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature.1 Ask, if you have questions about yours.

When traveling. What if you are traveling during the “dog days of summer”? Don’t be leaving your medications in the glove compartment or trunk of your car while off scouting the Grand Canyon! Temperatures can skyrocket in a closed car.

In fact, don’t even leave them in the trunk while driving—keep them inside the car, where you can control the temperature. One British study found that trunk temperatures can go as high as 81.5°F to 110.3°F during a heat wave.3  

For medications that need to be refrigerated, use a refrigerator (or freezer gel pack for longer periods), cooler, or fridge throughout your whole trip.

When flying, avoid packing away your medication in checked luggage. Baggage compartments can also undergo extremes of temperature. Instead, keep your medications in your carry-on luggage in their original, labeled containers. Don’t be alarmed if airport security asks to inspect your medication.

Any more questions? I’m glad to talk this all over with you. Or, if it helps, I can print out more information as a reference. Need it in a different language or in bigger type? Let’s see what we can do.

Just remember this: extreme environmental changes can affect your drug’s potency. And, depending upon your condition and your type of medication, that can be serious—even life threatening.

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.      University of Texas at Austin: “Medication Storage Tips.” Available at: Accessed 5-7-15.

2.      Learn about Rx Safety: “The Quick Scoop: Medicines and Your Family.” Available at: Accessed 5-7-15

3.      Crichton B. Keep in a cool place: exposure of medicines to high temperatures in general practice during a British heat wave. J R Soc Med. 2004;97:328-9.

Brought to you by Health Mart Wellness Column.

Preventing Falls as You Grow Older

Whether it simply bruises your ego or breaks a bone, taking a fall is no fun. Each year, one in three seniors 65 and older experiences a fall—a number that has grown in recent years.1 For people in this age group, falling is the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths.1,2

Whether due to concerns about independence or worrying others, however, fewer than half these people tell the doctor about their falls. But that could add insult to injury because one fall may lead to another.3

Don’t keep it a secret. Be upfront with your doctor—and with me. Provide details about when, where, and how you fell. We can help you pinpoint the problem and suggest changes you can make. For starters, falling might be due to:

· A chronic health condition

· An infection

· A balance disorder

· Vision problems

· Muscle weakness

· Medications2,3,4

Stay healthy. Fortunately, falls needn’t be a fait accompli. Even simple lifestyle changes can make a difference in preventing falls. This includes maintaining good physical condition with exercise, sleep, and nutrition. Also, stay well hydrated with plenty of water. And limit alcohol, which can slow your reflexes and throw you off balance. Wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles and toss out the floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles.2,3,4,5,6

With your doctor’s permission, engage in exercise that improves strength, flexibility, balance, and gait. This might include walking, water workouts, or tai chi—a gentle exercise that involves meditative movements. Is a fear of falling keeping you stuck in your easy chair? Your doctor may suggest physical therapy or a guided exercise program. 1,4

Review your meds. Here’s where I can really help. Make a list of your medications. Do any make you dizzy or drowsy? Your doctor and I can review this list with you, discuss any side effects you are having, and decide whether it makes sense to change your medications. 1,4 Of course, don’t make any changes without first having a conversation with your doctor.

Make changes on the home front. Here are a few more ways to help prevent falls at home:

· Clean up spills right away.

· Remove throw rugs.

· Clear newspapers and electrical or phone cords from walkways.

· Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.

· Put nightlights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathroom.

· Keep flashlights in easy-to-reach places.

· Turn on lights before going up or down stairs.

· Install handrails on both sides of stairways.4

Has your doctor suggested an assistive device such as a cane or walker—but your pride won’t quite allow it? It may help to focus on how this can keep you more independent. Other assistive devices can also help prevent falls. They include:

· A raised toilet seat with armrests

· Shower or tub grab bars

· A shower seat and hand-held shower nozzle

Remember to check our store for supplies to safe-proof your home. I can help point you in the right direction.

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: “Falls on the Rise Among U.S. Seniors.” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

2. NIHSeniorHealth: “Balance Problems.” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

3. HealthDay: “Seniors May Keep Falls a Secret.” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

4. Mayo Clinic: “Healthy Aging.” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

5. NIHMedlinePlus: “How Can Older Adults Prevent Falls?” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

6. NIHMedlinePlus: “Home Improvements Prevent Falls.” Available at: Accessed February 16, 2015.

This article is brought to you by Health Mart Wellness Column.

Diabetes by the Numbers

Do you pay attention to health news? If so, you may know that the diabetes epidemic is enormous! But there could be a surprise or two for you in the numbers below.

Nearly 1 in 10. That’s how many people have diabetes in the United States.1

 5.4 percent. Fortunately, the number of new diabetes cases fell an average of 5.4 percent between 2008 and 2012. Researchers think some of this success is due to overall declines in obesity rates.2

 Double trouble. Some racial and ethnic groups, though, are still seeing a rise in diabetes rates. Native Americans have twice the rate of diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks don’t fare much better.1

 Perhaps most humbling of all? Researchers predict that half of black women and Hispanic men and women will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime.3

 8.1 million. Could you be one of the 8.1 million Americans who has diabetes but doesn’t know it?1

Diabetes may sneak up on you in the form of prediabetes. It causes high blood sugar and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. That’s when your body doesn’t use the hormone insulin the right way.

 Lifestyle changes that increase activity and take off extra weight can often prevent prediabetes from becoming full-blown diabetes.1 In fact, the National Diabetes Prevention Program has cut people’s risk of type 2 diabetes in half with diet and exercise.2

 Over 45. Clearly, lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. They can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. That’s why a U.S. task force now recommends that every American over age 45 be screened for both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.4

 176 billion. That’s how much money people spent on diabetes medical care in 2012. Those with diabetes, on average, spend more than twice that of people without the condition.1

 Seventh.  According to the CDC, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.1

Together, let’s make sure this statistic doesn’t include you.

See your doctor to be screened for diabetes, especially if you are obese, have a family history of diabetes, or are over age 45. Don’t waste any time getting to your doctor if you have symptoms of diabetes. These may include:

 ·         Needing to urinate often

·         Extreme thirst

·         Feeling very hungry, even after eating

·         Feeling very tired

·         Blurred vision

·         Cuts or bruises that heal slowly5

 If you don’t manage diabetes well, you’re at risk for serious complications. These can range from skin infections and nerve damage to vision loss and kidney disease—and, yes, even death. 6

 Healthy eating and exercise is a winning combination for some people with type 2 diabetes. Others need insulin, other injectables drugs, or pills to stay healthy. 7 Don’t hesitate to get the help you need. I can really help you stay on track.

 Let’s head your numbers in the right direction.

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.       CDC: “Estimates of Diabetes and its Burden in the United States.” Available at:  Accessed November 3, 2014.

2.      HealthDay: “Diabetes Rates Leveling Off in U.S.” Available at: Accessed November 3, 2014.

3.       HealthDay: “40 Percent of Americans Will Develop Diabetes, CDC Projects.” Available at:  Accessed November 3, 2014.

4.      Health Day: “Screen Everyone Over 45 for Diabetes: U.S. Task Force.” Available at: Accessed November 3, 2014.

5.      ADA: “Diabetes Symptoms.” Available at: Accessed November 4, 2014.

6.      ADA: “Complications.” Available at: Accessed November 4, 2014.

7.       ADA: “Medication.” Available at: Accessed November 4, 2014.

Brought to you by Health Mart Wellness Column.  


Q & A’s: Medication Saftey in Children

 Curiosity kills more than the cat…. Did you know that medications are the top cause of poisoning in kids?1 Together, we can help change that! To get started, here are a few answers to some questions parents commonly ask about medication safety for kids.
1. Where should I store medications? People may call it the “medicine cabinet,” but it’s not a good place to store medications. Bathrooms are moist and can lower the strength of a medication. Plus, they’re a little too easy for little hands to get into.
Instead, keep drugs, eye drops, and vitamins out of sight and out of reach of children. Try a high place, such as a hall closet or kitchen shelf. Don’t forget that a curious kid may easily find medicine in a purse or dresser drawer.1,2
2. How should I measure medicine? With young children, it’s especially important to get the dosing right. Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Measuring spoons or other home utensils aren’t the same as a medication syringe or cup. 1 If you use a syringe, try squirting the medicine on the inside of the cheek where there are fewer taste buds.4
If your child takes the wrong dosage, call me right away. I can tell you whether or not it’s cause for concern. Or call Poison Control for assistance as well.
3. Does a spoonful of sugar help the medicine go down? Some medicines can taste pretty nasty to a child! It may be okay to mix a liquid medication with chocolate or maple syrup. However, don’t do this for babies. If they don’t finish a bottle, they won’t get the right amount of medication.2 And check with me before crushing and mixing a tablet or capsule with food. 4
4. Is it okay to share prescription medications? No matter how similar their symptoms, don’t have your kids share medications.2 And never repackage them. Keep medications in their original childproof container.
5. How long can my child use a medication? Be sure to not use drugs past their expiration date. Most drugs lose their strength after about a year. If you have any question about whether or not to use a drug, talk with your child’s doctor or me.2
6. Are OTC drugs safe for kids? Be sure to read labels. Not all over-the-counter (OTC) medications are safe for children of all ages. Of course, never give aspirin to any child—it can cause serious illness, even death.3
Make sure you know a drug’s potential side effects. But stay alert to any adverse reactions. Kids can be more sensitive to drugs than adults. For example, cold medications can cause excitability or severe drowsiness in kids, even at lower doses. The FDA recommends that you not use OTC cough and cold medications in children younger than age two.3 Rest, clear fluids, and a humidifier may be the best route to recovery from colds and flu.4
Remember: There’s no substitute for getting your specific questions answered. I’m here to personally talk with you about your child’s medications. I can also suggest OTC drugs and discuss any concerns you have about side effects. If you don’t remember a question until you’re home, that’s okay. Just give me a call.
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. Safe Kids: “Medication Safety.” Available at: Accessed June 12, 2014.
2. Kids Health: “Talking to the Pharmacist.” Available at: Accessed June 12, 2014.
3. FDA: “Giving Medication to Children.” Available at: Accessed June 12, 2014.
4. Kids Health: “Medication Safety.” Available at: Accessed June 12, 2014.

This article was provided to you through the Health Mart Wellness Column for August.

The link Between Oral and Overall Health

Here’s a great sound bite for you: The health of your mouth may mirror your overall health. What’s the link? For one, good dental care helps prevent a buildup of bacteria and inflammation from gum disease. And that may help protect other parts of your body.1 Researchers need to conduct more studies to confirm the possible links, but evidence is growing.
Heart and blood vessels. Research suggests that heart disease and stroke may be linked to bacteria in your mouth.1 For example, a recent worldwide trial of nearly 16,000 people showed a strong link between oral health and heart health risk factors in people with chronic heart disease. Gum bleeding was linked with higher levels of “bad” cholesterol and high blood pressure.2 Other studies show that heart attacks are more common in people who have dental disease.3
Diabetes. Research also shows a connection between diabetes and gum disease. But which leads to which? It actually goes both ways. Gum disease may get worse if you have diabetes. Some even call it the “sixth complication of diabetes.” People with diabetes who have gum disease also have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. And this may make it harder to manage their disease.3 
Other possible links. There appears to be a link between gum disease and premature birth and low birth weight. Affecting the other end of the lifespan, early tooth loss may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. There’s also a bit of evidence pointing to a link between bone and tooth loss and weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis). 1   
Overall wellbeing. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can also affect your general quality of life. If you’re in pain or have missing teeth or infections, that can affect how you speak, eat, and interact with other people.4 As you can see, good dental health isn’t just about staying cavity free.
How can you know whether or not you have gum disease? After all, millions of people don’t know they have this serious infection.5 The obvious step is to see your dentist. Also, check for signs and symptoms of gum disease such as:
·         Red, swollen, or tender gums
·         Bleeding when you brush or floss
·         Loose teeth
·         Bad breath
·         Sores or pus in your mouth
·         A change in your bite or the way your partial dentures fit5
Here’s another important thing to know about oral health. Certain medications, such as antihistamines and diuretics, can have side effects that affect your mouth.3 Bring me a list of your medications and we can talk over how to minimize or manage any side effects you may have.
While you’re in our store, stock up on the products you need to maintain good oral health: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss for daily brushing and flossing. Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three to four months—sooner if the bristles become worn. Combine these daily practices with regular dental checkups and a healthy diet. And, you’ll be well on your way to good oral health—and a healthier body, too.1
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.       Mayo Clinic: “Oral health: A window to your overall health.” Available at: Accessed June 2, 2014.
2.      Vedin, O. et al. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. April 10, 2014. [Epub ahead of print.] Available at: Accessed June 2, 2014.
3.       NIDCR: “Part Three: What Is the Relationship Between Oral Health and General Health and Well-being?”  Available at: Accessed June 2, 2014.
4.      News Medical: “Research shows direct link between dental health and general health.” Available at: Accessed June 2, 2014.
5.      American Academy of Periodontology: “Gum Disease Symptoms.” Available at: Accessed June 2, 2014.
This article is brought to you by the July 2014 Health Mart Wellness Column.

Diabetes, Cholesterol, and Blood Pressure—Oh My!

The last couple of decades tell a “good news, bad news” story about diabetes. That’s the disease that makes it tough for your body to control blood sugar. Here’s a snapshot:
In the last 20 years, the number of adults with diabetes has more than tripled.1 Nearly one in 10 now has the disease.2 That’s certainly not good news.
But there are some bright spots in recent reports. In general, control of blood sugar has improved and rates of serious complications from diabetes have declined a great deal.
If you’re at risk for diabetes or already have it, consider these three questions:
1. Are you making good lifestyle choices?
Where people haven’t made progress, lifestyle has a lot to do with it. For example, it’s no secret that the obesity epidemic is growing, right along with the diabetes epidemic.1
Think about the lifestyle choices you make. Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but it still holds true: Make healthy food choices—and understand diabetes meal planning. Exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Move to or stay at a healthy weight. And manage your stress as well as you can.3
2. Do you know your diabetes ABCs?
Knowing your numbers is also a big piece of the diabetes story, especially if you are at risk for or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. High blood pressure is when blood moves through your vessels with too much force. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can cause plaque buildup in arteries. Combined, these three give your heart and blood vessels a triple whammy.4
These are the diabetes ABCs:
• A is for the A1C test. That’s the test that shows what your blood sugar levels have been the past three months. In most cases, you want to shoot for a number below 7.
• B is for blood pressure. A great goal is below 140/80. The top number measures pressure in vessels as your heart beats. The bottom number measures pressure when vessels relax between beats.5
• C is for cholesterol. Ask your doctor or me the numbers you need.4
3. Are you managing your medicines?
If you have type 1 diabetes, you must use insulin. Some people with type 2 diabetes need pills and/or insulin to meet target blood glucose levels.6 Although lifestyle is a first line of defense, cholesterol medications such as statins can help control cholesterol levels.7 As for high blood pressure, there are many classes of drugs to keep this silent killer at bay.5
It may not be easy keeping track of all this, especially if you’re taking multiple medications. That’s what I’m here for. I can explain how each drug works, what side effects to watch for, and how to make sure you’re taking them all properly.
So, what’s your diabetes story? Together, let’s make sure it has a happier ending.
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. CDC: New CDC data show declines in some diabetes-related complications among US adults. Available at: Accessed 4/22/15.
2. MedlinePlus: Nearly 10 Percent of U.S. Adults Now Have Diabetes: Study. Available at: Accessed 4/22/14.
3. Diabetes Education Program: The Power to Control Diabetes Is in Your Hands. Available at: Accessed 4/23/14.
4. Diabetes Education Program:Know Your Diabetes ABCs. Available at: Accessed 4/22/15

5. ADA: Treating High Blood Pressure in People with Diabetes. Available at: Accessed 4/22/15.
6. American Diabetes Association: Medication. Available at: Accessed 4-23-14.
7. Mayo Clinic: Cholesterol medications: Consider the options. Available at: Accessed 4-23-14.

This is provided to you by the HealthMart June Wellness Column.

Health Mart Wellness Column April: Recovering from Surgery

Speeding Recovering from Surgery

A sudden fall. A serious diagnosis. Surgery isn’t always something you can plan for. Even so, you can take steps to make recovery at home a little faster and safer. You just might need to depend on others for extra help. With the benefit of advance planning, of course, do what you can before the day of surgery.
Simplify. What felt easy before surgery may suddenly feel a little like mountain climbing. Take a few simple steps now to eliminate steps later.

· Stock up on food and other supplies. Buy ready-made meals or prepare and freeze single meals.

· Put items you use often within easy reach—between waist and shoulder level.

· Make sure your bed is firm enough to support you while you recover.

· Stay on the same floor as a nearby bathroom. Or buy a portable commode to put by the bed.

· Put a portable or cell phone within easy reach. Keep handy the numbers you will need to call, like the doctors office, neighbor, relative and pharmacy.

· Place a firm-backed chair in rooms you use most often.

· Use a fanny pack to carry items with you around the house.1 Place the phone inside incase you fall and need to call for help.

 Ask for help. If not now, when? Remind yourself that most people feel good about helping out. So when someone says, “What can I do?” be specific. You might say something like this: “I need help getting the dog walked twice a week.” “A home-cooked meal tomorrow would be terrific.” “If I give you a list, can you run to the store for me once a week?”
Will you need help with basic things like bathing and transportation, but don’t have anyone at home who can help? Ask the doctor, nurse, or social worker how to find trained caregivers.1
         Safe-proof the bathroom. Unless you make a few changes, this room can be downright dangerous.

· Consider buying an elevated toilet seat and a shower or bath chair.

· Install grab bars vertically or horizontally. Don’t ever use towel racks as grab bars.

· Add non-slip suction mats in the tub and a non-skid mat outside the tub.

· Place soap and shampoo where you won’t need to reach for it.1

Remember that you can purchase some of these special items in our store.
Prevent falls. Do what you can to remove tripping hazards. Remove loose wires, cords, and throw rugs in walkways. Add extra lighting, for example, nightlights to hallways and bathrooms. Keep your hands free when moving from room to room.
Practice using crutches, a walker, or wheelchair. Also, have someone show you the safe way to go up and down stairs and get in and out of the shower.1
Follow instructions. After surgery, you’ll likely go home with special instructions on incision care. To prevent infections, make sure you understand how to care for your incision. For example, call the doctor if you see pus or the incision becomes really painful.2,3
Also, take medications exactly as prescribed. If you have questions about any of this, remember that I’m here to guide you in the proper use of your medications. Remember that pain control can help you get moving, which can speed your healing and help prevent complications. Let your doctor and me know if pain medication isn’t working or is causing side effects.4 There’s no reason to suffer in silence!
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. MedlinePlus: “Getting your home ready – after the hospital.” Available at: Accessed March 10, 2014.

2. CDC: “Frequently Asked Questions About Surgical Site Infections.” Available at: Accessed March 10, 2014.

3. American Academy of Family Physicians: “Caring for Your Incision After Surgery.” Available at: Accessed March 10, 2014.

4. University of Southern California: “A Patient’s Guide to Heart Surgery.” Available at: Accessed March 10, 2014.


March Healthmart Wellness Column

Taking calcium—either through diet or supplements—is a little like making deposits into a bone bank account. If you keep a healthy balance of this mineral, your body is able to build and maintain bone, which is a living, ever-changing tissue. Not only does calcium keep bones and teeth healthy, it also helps with clotting blood, sending signals between nerves, and regulating heart rhythms.1,2 

But if you fail to make calcium “deposits,” your body starts to pull calcium out of your bones and “overdraws your account.” Worse than a painful overdraft fee, however, this calcium imbalance can cause porous, weakened bones. This condition is called osteoporosis. In the U.S., it affects 8 million women and 2 million men, resulting in 1.5 million fractures each year.1

 How much calcium do you need? It varies, depending on your age. Your preteen or teen needs more. Banking calcium at this stage is really like making an early investment in “retirement.”

 The National Academy of Sciences recommends:

  • 1,300 mg/day for children ages 9–18

  • 1,000 mg/day for men and women ages 19–50

  • 1,200 mg/day for men and women ages 50 or older1,3

 Some guidelines suggest 1,500 mg for postmenopausal women who don’t take estrogen.2 That’s because—due to a loss of estrogen at menopause—women start to have bone loss earlier than men.1

 If you take calcium supplements, it’s best to divide the dose. Take half in the morning and half at night.2 Let me know if you have questions about different types of calcium. I can also discuss any medications that might interfere with calcium absorption. And I can give you tips on how to handle any calcium side effects, such as constipation or indigestion. To limit side effects, be sure to take no more than 2,000 mg daily.2 

Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, dark leafy greens, dried beans, nuts, and calcium-fortified foods, which may include orange juice, cereal, and bread.1,3 Some recent studies suggest that food sources of calcium may be better than supplements. Last year, a study reported on in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who got most of their calcium from diet had better bone density than those who got most it from supplements.4 It’s too soon to know why, but it might have to do with better absorption or other food compounds that enhance bone health. 

What else can you do to prevent bone loss as you age? Try weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or running, and get enough vitamin D.3 This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium. To get enough of it, you can spend at least 15 minutes in the sun several times a week.5 You can also take supplements or get food sources of vitamin D—in salmon, tuna, or fortified milk, margarine, or cereal.6 Try to get 800 International Units (IU) daily, but no more than 2,000 IU, which can be toxic.2 


  1. Harvard School of Public Health Web site. “Calcium & Milk.”

  1. UpToDate Patient Information Web site. “Patient information: Calcium and vitamin D for bone health.”

  1. CDC Web site. “Bone Health.”

  1. Science Daily Web site. “Dietary Calcium Is Better Than Supplements At Protecting Bone Health.”

  1. American Dietetic Organization Web site. “Calcium and Vitamin D: Essential Nutrients for Bone Health.”

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements Web site. “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D.”


Stress and Heart Disease

February Health Mart Consumer Wellness Tips

If managing stress is a challenge for you, take heed: More and more research is pointing to stress as a contributor to heart attack and other forms of heart disease. From natural disasters1 to the death of a sibling2 to the daily grind of modern-day life, stress can have a big impact on your heart. In fact, some studies show it harms your heart as much as smoking at least five cigarettes a day.3

Adding insult to injury? If you do have a heart attack, the prognosis may be poorer with chronic stress.4 And heart patients with high anxiety can double their risk of dying. Throw depression into the mix—and it’s a triple whammy.5

Why does stress have such a big impact? Stress produces lots of physiological changes affecting your heart. For example, you pump out more adrenaline, which can make your blood pressure rise and your heart race. If these changes keep up over time, they can damage your heart’s arteries.6

Of course there’s also some good news. Although you can’t control all the stressors in your life, you can take steps to better manage your responses to stress. Cultivating a positive, optimistic frame of mind has even been linked to better levels of cholesterol and other markers of heart health.7

Okay, so where do you start? Find methods for managing stress that work well for you. Here’s just a sample. You might have other ideas to add to this list.

  • Practice positive self-talk at least once a day. This can work wonders at turning around a negative frame of mind. An example of negative self-talk is this: “I hate when this happens.” An example of positive self-talk is this: “I can handle this. I’ve done it before.”
  • Do something pleasurable JUST FOR YOU at least 15 minutes a day. Maybe it’s taking a bubble bath, strolling in the park, or listening to your favorite music. You might be amazed at how much this can turn around a day that feels like it’s gone all wrong.
  • Use emergency stress stoppers. These are great for those situations where you feel like you’re going to burst! Try methods like these: Count to 10 before you speak. Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Give someone a hug. Smile at a stranger. Give yourself extra time to get ready in the morning so you won’t be running late.
  • Practice a daily relaxation method such as deep breathing. And when I say relaxation, I don’t mean just sitting and watching TV. You need to actively calm the tension in your mind and body. Other great methods of relaxation are yoga, tai chi, and meditation. Try out a variety of methods, but give yourself time to practice and learn.8
  • Cultivate healthy habits. Get enough sleep, don’t forget to laugh, exercise, slow down, accept what you can’t change. Taking steps like these will make a big difference in how well you manage stress.9

Good luck with your changes. When you’re in the store, stop by and see how your blood pressure is responding!

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: “Katrina, Other Crises Boost Heart Attacks: Studies.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  2. HealthDay: “Sibling’s Death…” Available at:  Accessed March 23, 2013.
  3. Nursing Times: “Stress raises heart attack risk.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  4. Reuters: “Chronic stress tied to worse heart attack prognosis.” Available at:  Accessed March 23, 2013.
  5. HealthDay: “Anxiety, Depression May Triple Risk of Death for Heart Patients; Study.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  6. University of Kentucky: “Reduce Stress and Heart Attack Risk.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  7. Reuters: “Mid-life optimism linked to healthier cholesterol.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  8. American Heart Association: “Four Ways to Deal with Stress.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.
  9. American Heart Association: “Fight Stress with Health Habits.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2013.

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.