Friday, December 30, 2011

Weekend Events for $15 or Less

This weekend, take in an improv comedy show or check out the largest poinsettia display in Western New York. Count down the New Year downtown or ring in 2012 at the Erie Canal, Niagara Falls or in ski country.

1. New Year's Eve Improv Show (Buffalo)

Time: Saturday: 8 p.m.
Cost: $15
More Information: Website

This family-friendly show is entirely improvised, so you never see the same show twice. Performers create on-the-fly dialog, short plays, and songs and duets.

2. Winter Wildlife Snowshoe Walk (Depew)

Time: Saturday: 10:30 a.m.
Cost: $4
More Information: Website

Look for signs of who is out and about in the woods in winter at the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. Reservations are required.

3. Buffalo Annual Ball Drop Countdown to 2012 (Buffalo)

Time: Saturday: 10:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Don't miss the 2nd largest Ball Drop celebration outside of NYC! Gather in Roosevelt Plaza for local singing sensation Caitlin Koch and the Jamie Moses Band. A ball drop and fireworks display takes place at midnight.

4. Lance Diamond New Year’s Eve Party (Buffalo)

Time: Saturday: 11 p.m.
Cost: $10-$15
More Information: Website

Celebrate New Year's Eve and the return of Lance Diamond to the Elmwood Lounge. Lance Diamond is a lounge singer and radio personality who plays classic rock and disco-era songs and has performed with the Goo Goo Dolls.

5. First Night Buffalo (Buffalo)

Time: Saturday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Cost: $10 at the door ($8 in advance)
More Information: Website

First Night Buffalo is the city's biggest drug- and alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration. Kids can participate in a scavenger hunt and amusement rides. Terry Buchwald entertains as Elvis and the Skyhunters Birds of Prey Show introduce you to hawks, eagles, and owls.

6. New Year's on the Canal (Tonawanda)

Time: Saturday: 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Family activities at the canal begin at 6 p.m. with two alcohol-free kid zones. The event features live music from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., food vendors, and a pub crawl for adults.

Countdown to midnight with a 5ft. lighted ball drop and a fireworks display.

7. New Year's Eve Guitar Drop (Niagara Falls)

Time: Saturday: 8 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Visit the Hard Rock Cafe, where a 10-foot Gibson guitar, painted by local artist Rob Lynch and illuminated by Ken-Ton Electronics, will be lowered 120 feet onto Old Falls Street at midnight. There will be a live performance by the band of reggae legend Bob Marley, Wailers.

8. New Year's Eve in Ellicotville (Ellicotville)

Time: Saturday: 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 or valid lift ticket
More Information: Website

Head to ski country for music, dancing, door prizes, and a cash bar. The evening ends with a torchlight parade and fireworks show at midnight.

9. Poinsettia Show (Buffalo)

Time: Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $7
More Information: Website

Warm up at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, where it's always 72 degrees! The Poinsettia show is the largest display of poinsettias in the Western New York region.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In the News: How to Get Fit, Eat Healthy and Quit Smoking

Get Fit like the Obamas

Being busy is no excuse to skip exercise, says President Obama's personal trainer Cornell McClellan.

In a CNN article, he asserts that people can make time in their lives for exercise, as long as they have the right mindset and make it a priority. Prior to becoming First Lady, Michelle Obama exercised at McClellan's gym as early as 4:45 a.m.

Rather than taking away from your busy schedule, the health and stress benefits of exercise enable you to maintain your lifestyle, he says.

Eat Out Without Growing Your Waistline

Eating out can result in extra calories – and weight gain – but healthy choices can keep unwanted pounds at bay. An MSN article suggests:
  • Choosing grilled foods, not fried
  • Saying "no" to extras like cheese, mayonnaise, and salad dressings
  • Ordering smaller portion sizes (which is often cheaper, as well)
  • Avoiding sugary drinks
  • Saving half for later

Is a Vegan Diet Right for You?

Vegan diets are growing in popularity, and nutritionists say that for some people, they may be the healthiest way to live, with proper planning.

Vegan diets are plant-based and exclude all animal products, even items like milk, cheese and eggs that are allowed in some forms of vegetarian diets.

According to a CNN article, people who adopt vegan diets enjoy:
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Healthier BMI (Body Mass Index)
  • Decreased risk for heart disease and cancer
  • Better control and prevention of diabetes
Give vegan food a try by visiting visit local restaurants, such as:

Strategies to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is no easy task; it often takes multiple tries before the resolution sticks. To be as successful as possible, the American Lung Association recommends:
  • picking your quit day a few weeks advance and mark it on the calendar; choose a day when you won't be under a great deal of stress
  • exercising daily to improve your energy levels and mood
  • eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep
  • asking your family, friends and co-workers for support
  • joining a stop-smoking program so that you don't have to quit alone
Visit for a list of resources available to you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Congratulations to Erin!

Please congratulate Erin (epalcic), winner of our $50 GiveNow charity gift card.

Erin was chosen at random from our commentors and email newsletter subscribers, using a random number generator:

Erin, you will be contacted by email to arrange delivery of your prize.

To make sure that you don't miss out on future giveaways, subscribe to our RSS feed to see our latest posts or subscribe to our monthly email newsletter (see sidebar) and you'll be automatically entered into future giveaways.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In the News: Giving is Better than Receiving

Studies have found that giving to someone else benefits both the giver and the recipient.

One study suggests that it may reduce your stress levels while another finds that people who spend their money on others are generally happier than those who spend it on themselves.

Ready to test those theories? Enter to win our giveaway for a $50 GiveNow gift card. You could donate it the charity of your choice or give it someone as a thoughtful gift.

You could support the animals at the Buffalo Zoo, the restoration of the Central Terminal, or the patients at our hospitals, including our newborns.

Thousands of charities accept donations at the GiveNow website, so you can support the cause that means the most to you.

We'll choose a winner on Friday at noon, so enter today!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giveaway: $50 GiveNow Charity Gift Card

Last week, I wrote about the GiveNow Charity Gift Card, a gift card that lets you donate to the charity of your choice, including local non-profits.
    Maybe you've thought about giving to charity this year, but haven't, or need a last-minute gift idea for a friend or family member.

    Now through Friday, you have the opportunity to win a $50 GiveNow gift card to donate on your behalf or to give as a gift.

    The gift card will be emailed to the winning entrant.

    How to Enter

    To enter our giveaway, subscribe to our email newsletter or leave a comment on this blog post (include your first name or a screen name). A winner will be chosen at random from our commentors and also from our email subscribers. If you're already subscribed to our newsletter, then no action is needed – you're automatically entered into the giveaway.

    A winner will be chosen at 12 p.m. on Friday, December 23 and will be announced on the blog.

    Good luck!

    If you win the gift card, which charity will you donate to?

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Ask Us Anything: How Much Will I Pay for Long-term Care?

    "I'm concerned that my mom won't have the resources needed to be cared for properly when she is older. She works as a cashier and doesn't have a retirement plan or any savings. She plans to work until she can no longer do so.

    Are there any programs available for persons who are not able to pay out-of-pocket for nursing or adult homes? Is there anything that I should be doing now to prepare?

    She probably won't need long-term care for another ten or fifteen years, but I don't want to be blindsided by the costs when it does happen."

    Patricia Weeks O'Connor, Executive Director of the OLV Senior Neighborhood, Responds:

    Your mother will likely qualify for Medicaid, assuming that she has limited resources at the time that she needs long-term care.

    If she needs skilled nursing care, Medicaid will require her to use whatever income she has (with the exception of $50 per month) toward her care and Medicaid will pay the balance to the facility.

    She would be required to "spend down" her savings toward her care until she reached the resource limit and then Medicaid would kick in.

    Spending down means that if the value of her resources is over the allowed amount, which is $13,800 at present, she would be expected to use her assets to pay for long-term care, or “spend down” for care until her resources are depleted to the resource exemption amount applicable to her.

    Once her resources (savings) are at the eligibility requirement, then she would have to apply any income toward her care except for $50 that she can keep for incidentals. So, if she received $1,200 a month from Social Security, $1,150 would go to the nursing home and Medicaid would pay the balance toward the Medicaid rate for that facility. Income from all sources (pensions, etc.) would go toward her care except $50.

    The average cost for a nursing home in Western New York can run over $10,000 per month. Adult homes can cost $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

    Medicaid will also pay for certain types of home care and services. Catholic Charities can assist you with the application for Medicaid. For additional information, click here to download a PDF of the New York Medicaid Guide.

    By the time she needs care, medical care payments may be quite different, depending on how the Affordable Care Act grows or changes, so you will want to keep abreast of changes in this area as they occur and learn how they will impact senior care.

    Karen Shalke, Regional LIFE Representative, Adds:

    Understanding how long-term care services are paid for is a good place to start.

    Whether long-term care services are provided for in the community or are facility-based, the three main payment sources are private pay, Medicaid or through long-term care insurance plans.

    In some instances, services may be available for Veterans and their spouses through the Veterans Administration in the form of what is known as Aide and Attendance.

    It is very important to understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.
    • Medicare is available to people when they turn 65 years old, or at a younger age if they are considered disabled. Medicare will only pay for skilled services on a short-term basis.
    • Medicaid is based on income and resources.
    Medicaid pays for a significant amount of long-term care services. To qualify for Medicaid, income and asset limits apply. Those amounts vary based on marital status and the setting in which long-term services are delivered. Skilled nursing facilities and a limited number of assisted living beds may accept Medicaid for payment.

    Other options to consider are through community-based providers such as Catholic Health LIFE – Living Independently for Elders. LIFE is a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The cost of the program is covered by Medicare and Medicaid or, Medicaid alone. Although Medicaid “spend downs” do apply for community-based settings such as LIFE, the amounts allowed differ from those of nursing homes. Private pay is also an option and is about half the amount of nursing home care.

    Preparing for the future is important because the worst time to evaluate options is during a crisis. An elder law attorney, a geriatric care manager, senior service case manager or social worker who specializes in Eldercare can help with planning.

    About Our Experts

    Patricia Weeks O'Connor

    Patricia Weeks O'Connor is the Executive Director of the OLV Senior Neighborhood and Mercy Nursing Facility in Lackawanna. OLV Senior Neighborhood provides senior housing, nursing home care, LIFE (a PACE program for the elderly) and blood testing.

    Karen Shalke

    Karen Shalke, Occupational Therapist, is the Regional Representative for Catholic Health LIFE – Living Independently For Elders.

    If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Wrap Up Your Christmas Shopping With One Click

    No matter what your age, there's something special about Christmas. After all, it's the one time of year when we actually smile to see snow fall.

    But, as an adult, I've found that gifts are a smaller part of my holiday. When my parents ask me what I want for Christmas, I stall for time. I have everything that I need – something impressed on me recently when I learned that some families want for basic items like paper towels and toilet paper.

    Helping others isn't a new concept, but it's one that few of us practice. How many times have you heard the suggestion to donate to charity as a Christmas gift? In theory, it's a great idea, but what if your recipient doesn't have a favorite charity? Will they be disappointed not to receive a physical gift? has the solution. I stumbled onto their website earlier this week, when my husband, Ben, said that he wanted to donate the rest of his Christmas money to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). If you've seen their commercials of doe-eyed cats and dogs, then you'll know why.

    At, you can purchase a GiveNow card, which allows the recipient to donate to the charity of his or her choice. The card can be emailed, printed or mailed, meaning that you have something to hand over come Christmas day.

    The recipient redeems the gift card at the JustGive website, applying his or her balance to one of 1.8 million charities. The gift can be donated to a national or local charity.

    Among the local non-profits listed:
    • Catholic Health's foundations
    • Burchfield-Penney Art Center
    • Local charter schools
    • Diocese of Western New York
    • Statler Foundation
    • Central Terminal Restoration Corp.
    Next year, I know what I'm putting on my Christmas list.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Going Green this Holiday Season

    Christmas is a time when we go all out with home decorating, holiday gift giving, cards, and parties.

    Unfortunately, some of our holiday habits wreak havoc on the environment.

    Tons of extra trash, increased electrical usage, and throwing fresh Christmas trees in the trash are just a few examples of holiday excesses that can be reduced with some small changes.

    Here's how you can go green this Christmas:


    Use LED lights. They use up to 90% less energy than traditional lights and generate very little heat, which significantly reduces the risk of fire. They also last about 10 times longer than traditional lights (about 200,000 hours).

    Christmas Trees

    If you insist on a real Christmas tree, recycle it rather than throw it in the trash. Recycled trees are often turned into wood chips and/or mulch that local parks and homeowners can use around their existing gardens.

    Click here for more information about recycling your tree.


    Residents of the city of Buffalo can place their trees on the curb from January 2, 2012 to January 6, 2012. Click here for details


    Try using soy candles. They are biodegradable and burn cleaner.

    In the Western New York area, soy candles are sold at Pure Integrity Soy Candles at the Boulevard Mall and Eastern Hills Mall.

    Greeting Cards

    Buy cards made from recycled paper or sustainable forests. Instead of throwing cards in the trash after the holidays, recycle them. Many card stores offer free Christmas card recycling.

    Or, incorporate them into your next craft project. Click here for projects and ideas from Martha Stewart.

    Gift Wrapping

    Recycle Christmas gift wrap or use gift bags and printed gift boxes that can be reused next year. Save and reuse holiday ribbons and bows.

    Meals and Parties

    Recycle glass bottles and cans. Most plastic plates, cups, and utensils are recyclable, but often go in the trash.

    Plan your holiday menu and buy groceries wisely. Over one-third of food items purchased end up in the trash.

    How do you plan to make your Christmas a little greener this holiday season?

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Things to Do This Weekend for $15 or Less

    This weekend, celebrate the upcoming holiday with seasonal crafts, sleigh rides, and Christmas light displays, all for under $15.

    1. Graham Cracker Houses at Explore & More (East Aurora)

    Time: Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Cost: $1 with Museum Admission ($5 per person)
    More Information: Website

    Kids of all ages can create edible decorations for the holidays. Explore & More provides the graham crackers to build the house, the candies to decorate and the royal frosting to hold it all together. Best of all, your house stays clean as your kids do all of the frosting and decorating at the museum!

    2. SantaLand (Orchard Park)

    Time: Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    More Information: Website

    At Chestnut Ridge Park, ride the hayride to Santa's workshop and cabin (last hayride is at 2:30 p.m.). Kid's activities, toy giveaways, music and singing, and sledding will keep your child entertained.

    Donations of cash, store gift cards and toiletries are accepted for the Domestic Violence Shelters of WNY.

    3. Queen City Market (Buffalo)

    Time: Saturday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    More Information: Website

    The Queen City Market at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter Ave. will feature over 50 local vendors, selling handmade or vintage items. Each vendor was handpicked to guarantee a wide selection of goods, including jewelry, ceramics, vintage clothing and housewares, local foods, and more.

    4. Castle by Candlelight (Youngstown)

    Time: Saturday: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
    Cost: $8 per person
    More Information: Website

    Inside the Castle at Old Fort Niagara, lit entirely by candles, historic characters will regale visitors with tales of Christmas past from the 18th and 19th centuries. Demonstrations of 18th and early 19th century trades and period music will be performed. In the Castle’s boulangerie (bakery), cooks will demonstrate the preparation of a traditional holiday feast, including wild game.

    The Castle will be decorated for the holidays by the award-winning Youngstown Garden Club.

    5. Fairgrounds Festival of Lights (Hamburg)

    Time: Daily (with a few exceptions) through January 1, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    Cost: $15 per car
    More Information: Website

    See over one million lights in a drive through that spans nearly 2 miles. Visit Santa inside the Expo Hall and take Reindeer carriage rides on the weekends. An interactive children's game show, sing-a-longs, and a nightly Holiday Magic Show starring Kandy Kane and the Fabulous Darnells are also must-sees.

    6. Magical Memories on Main Street (Buffalo)

    Time: Daily: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    More Information: Website

    Main Street will come alive with festive and animated holiday window displays featuring many of the vintage AM&A's figurines and animated window displays, containing items from original displays back in the 30's, 40's and 50's and other holiday favorites, that brought smiles and cheer to generations of families from years gone by.

    7. Annual Kriskindlemart, A Holiday Food & Craft Fair (Buffalo)

    Time: Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    More Information: Website

    This free event at the Broadway Market is touted as a unique alternative for mall shopping this holiday season. Local crafts, jams, jellies, organic coffees, local wines, candies, and more will be available for sale.

    8. Buffalo ComedySportz Arena (Buffalo)

    Time: Saturday: 7 p.m.
    Cost: $10 ($8 for seniors)
    More Information: Website

    The Blue Cheezes take on the Red Hot Wingz at Buffalo ComedySportz Arena on Saturday. Two teams take turns making up scenes, playing games and singing songs – and the audience votes on which team they like the best. It's all presided over by a referee, who keeps things moving, calls the ComedySportz fouls and takes suggestions shouted out by the audience before each game.

    9. Timmy's Toy Chest Dance Concert (Buffalo)

    Time: Saturday and Sunday: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    Cost: $12 ($10 for students and seniors)
    More Information: Website

    A University of Buffalo production at the Road Less Traveled Theatre, Timmy's Toy Chest Dance Concert tells the story of a toy maker whose toys come to life. Expect to see jazz, hip hop, tap, point, musical theatre, and contemporary dancing set to music from Danny Elfman, Eminem and other diverse composers.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    In the News: Apple Juice is a Danger to Your Waistline

    You may have heard claims that apple juice contains trace amounts of arsenic. But, experts say that the real danger is to your teeth and waistline, according to an Associated Press article.

    They say that in some cases, apple juice has more sugar than soda and few natural ingredients. They also say that it trains children to like sweet things.

    According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, juice has a small amount of protein and minerals and lacks the fiber in whole fruit. It offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months and no benefits over whole fruit for older kids.

    The message is clear: whole fruits are better for you. They will fill you up faster and they have fewer calories.

    Instead of apple juice, nutrition experts recommend a juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3. They caution parents to choose only pasteurized juice and to prevent children from consuming it throughout the day, which can cause tooth decay.

    • Limit your intake of apple juice.
    • Eat whole fruits.
    • Choose juices fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Are Women Putting Their Health at Risk?

    Careers, childcare and other responsibilities can all cause women to delay or go without healthcare, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    But, good health is a key part of the equation. Without it, there is no driving to and from work, taking care of children, or checking off chores on a to-do list.

    At a recent Heart Health for Women seminar, Dr. Irfan A. Khan shared the story of a patient who learned the value of her health when it was almost too late.

    Preparing for a vacation, she had spent the day packing and cleaning her house. She felt terrible as she did so but kept her complaints to herself because she had too many things to do.

    Her daughter, a nurse, knew that her mother’s symptoms were a sign of something bigger. She measured her heart rate at 25 beats per minute, 45 beats lower than normal. When the patient sought medical care – a day and a half after her symptoms began – a pacemaker was installed, without which she wouldn’t have survived.

    Stories like this one aren’t uncommon, especially in the case of heart disease.

    The symptoms of heart disease in women – chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and fatigue – aren’t what many consider serious. These nebulous symptoms, plus a woman’s desire not to be a bother, “is a recipe for disaster,” said Dr. Khan.

    The issue is so important that the American Heart Association teamed up with actress Elizabeth Banks to drive home the message that health matters.

    Banks said, "As women, we take care of everyone in our lives: our husbands, our kids, our mothers, our fathers, but we never look at ourselves. So this little film is about a super mom who takes care of everyone except herself and learns the lesson that she better look at herself, as well."

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Ask Us Anything: What Should I Eat During My Pregnancy?

    "I am pregnant with my first child and am wondering what kinds of foods I should be eating. Are there certain foods that I should eat more of or stay away from? Also, how much more should I be eating than usual?"

    Registered Dietitian Deborah Richter Responds:

    Having a healthy baby and maintaining good health during pregnancy are the goals of all expectant mothers, but knowing what to eat and how much to eat is often a question once the positive pregnancy test is confirmed.

    Foods to Eat

    Start with consuming a wide variety of food from all the food groups. Select whole grains and cereals fortified with iron. Take the prenatal vitamin as prescribed.

    Have at least 1 serving per day of each of the following:

    A fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C

    Good choices include:
    • Oranges
    • Orange juice
    • 100% fruit juice that is fortified
    • Most melons
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Red of green peppers
    Fruits, vegetable, or grains that are high in folic acid/folate

    Good choices include:
    • Dark green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach and turnip greens, asparagus, broccoli)
    • Dried beans, peas and lentils
    • Citrus fruits and juices (i.e. melon)
    • Most berries
    Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A

    Good choices include:
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Orange vegetables and fruits
    • Tomatoes and tomato products
    Fiber-containing foods to help prevent constipation (remember to drink plenty of fluids too)

    Good choices include:
    • Whole grain cereals and bread products
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Cooked dried beans and peas

    Foods to Avoid

    • Alcohol
    • Excessive caffeine
    • Some types of herbal tea
    • Raw or unpasteurized milk
    • Cheese and dairy products made with raw or unpasteurized milk
    • Raw or uncooked eggs
    Meat and Seafood
    • Raw or uncooked meats, fish, or poultry
    • Shark, swordfish, King mackerel, or tilefish (due to higher mercury levels)
    • Limit all other fish (including tuna) to 12 oz. or less per week
    • Hot dogs, luncheon meats, bologna or other deli meats unless they are heated until steaming hot
    Other items to avoid:
    • Tobacco and second hand smoke
    • Herbal remedies or supplements
    • Vitamin/mineral supplements other than those recommended or prescribed by your doctor, nurse practitioner of midwife

    Weight Goals

    The goal for adequate weight gain is to achieve an optimal birth weight for the baby and a healthy, well-nourished mother.

    Expected pregnancy weight gain is determined by the pre-pregnancy weight status.
    • If your BMI (body mass index) is less than 18.5, the pregnancy weight gain goal is 28 pounds.
    • If your BMI is within 18.5 to 25, the expected weight gain guideline is 25 pounds.
    • If your BMI is over 25, the desired weight gain is approximately 15 pounds.
    Use a BMI Calculator and enter your height and weight to determine your current BMI.

    Remember that each woman should follow the weight gain goals determined by their doctor, nurse practitioner or midwife.

    Morning Sickness

    To avoid morning sickness, it is recommended to avoid strong odors in foods, perfumes, laundry detergent, shampoos, soap, chemicals and pets.

    Get adequate fluids, often taking smaller sips of cool liquids, eating small more frequent meals, and often dry foods like crackers or toast are better tolerated than soft breads. Some woman find that consuming a small amount of ginger may help to decrease the nausea and vomiting.

    Remember to plan ahead and prepare to breastfeed this new baby. It is beneficial for both of you.

    — Deborah Richter, RD

    Deborah Richter is a registered dietitian at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga. She teaches diabetes education classes and provides outpatient nutrition counseling. She has helped her clients to lose weight, reduce their blood pressure and feel better about themselves through healthy eating choices.

    If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Heart Disease: Why It Matters to You

    If someone asked you which disease causes the most deaths in the United States, what would you say?

    If you answered “cancer,” it wouldn’t be surprising. But it would also be incorrect.

    Dr. Khan“Heart disease is the likeliest cause of death for everyone,” said Cardiologist Irfan A. Khan, who spoke at a recent Heart Health for Women seminar hosted by Catholic Health.

    Often thought to be a man’s disease, heart disease can be devastating for women.

    Dr. MeesalaCardiologist Mrinalini Meesala, who also presented at the event, said that heart disease is the number one killer of women, who often delay care and receive less aggressive treatment than men.

    In 2007, heart disease accounted for half of all deaths in women, causing one death per minute among women in the United States – more deaths than were caused by cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer disease, and accidents combined (Source: American Heart Association).

    Prevention is the Best Medicine

    Despite its prevalence, heart disease isn’t inevitable. Dr. Meesala said that prevention is the best treatment.

    Dr. Khan agreed. “The lifestyles changes that you make now affect how the next ten to fifteen years look.”

    Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk:

    Stop smoking.

    The American Medical Association says that smoking is responsible for one in four cases of heart disease (Source: Health Library).

    Make a plan to quit with the help of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which offers checklists, a free kit, and telephone access to a quit coach.

    Incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle.

    Regular physical activity keeps your heart and blood vessels healthy.

    For women, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes each week of vigorous exercise.

    If you need to lose weight or sustain weight loss, strive for at least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (i.e. brisk walking) on most, if not all, days of the week.

    Eat a heart-healthy diet.

    Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish are all part of a heart-healthy diet, according to Dr. Meesala.

    The American Heart Association recommends a serving of fish, especially oily fish, at least twice weekly.

    Reduce and/or maintain your weight.

    Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, even if you don’t have other risk factors (Source: Health Library).

    Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

    High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Because they may not cause any noticeable symptoms, it’s important that you know your levels.

    Get yours checked at a free Catholic Health screening provided by Registered Nurses. Click here for details on upcoming screenings.

    No matter what your age or current state of health, cardiovascular disease is a threat. Invest in your future – make the right choices today to prevent heart disease in the coming years.
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