By Melissa Kaufman
With Valentine’s Day celebrated during February, hearts are a common symbol and a recurrent appearance. But in addition to being the month of love, each February marks the arrival of American Heart Month. This annual commemoration raises awareness for the number one killer in America: heart disease, as noted by the American Heart Association (AHA). According to heart.org, 2021 marks the 57th annual consecutive American Heart Month. Former president Lyndon B. Johnson, a heart-attack survivor himself, officially proclaimed the annual event in 1964. In fact, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, approximately, 15,334 people within the U.S. have coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. It is notable to mention that specifically within our areas, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, approximately 420,000 & 667,000 residents, respectively, are afflicted.
Though it is always imperative to play close attention to heart health, it’s become even more important during the pandemic. Recent research on heart.org details COVID’s detrimental impact on both the heart and vascular system. In addition, heart.org states that many have either delayed or avoided visiting the hospital for heart attacks and strokes. This has prompted the AHA to enact the “Don’t Die of Doubt” campaign, to remind people of the importance of visiting hospitals for heart attack, stroke, and other symptoms. With many closures and restrictions in place since last year due to the pandemic, many have also turned to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, such as lack of exercise, poor eating habits, increased alcohol consumption and higher than usual stress levels.
Many forms of heart disease are preventable and manageable by adopting heart-healthy habits and behaviors. Read on for more specific ways to protect and maintain a healthy heart and lifestyle and how many local Happening List winners & partners can offer their aid. Also be sure to cast your vote for this year’s Happening List winners: https://bucks.happeningmag.com/nominee-entry-form/
Maintain Cholesterol, Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar Levels:
All three levels are imperative and essential to maintaining a healthy heart. Through eating a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, nuts and limiting red meats and sugary beverages and foods, regular exercise & avoiding smoking, and having regular checks at the doctor, these levels can be maintained. Aim for less than 200mg total cholesterol levels. High blood pressure can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys, arteries, and other organs and therefore, it is essential to keep levels ideally below 120/80 & fasting blood sugar levels below 100mg.
If at risk, on medications to treat any of the above, or experiencing symptoms, consider setting up a physical exam to devise a treatment plan and/or an evaluation for nutrition counseling to complement other lifestyle changes.
Jillian Foley, Nutritionista at AFC Fitness, Feasterville, 2020 Happening List Winner for Dieting/Nutrition:
Set up a customized plan and assessment for nutrition that works best for you.
Julie Lachman, ND LLC, Warrington, 2020 Happening List Winner for Family Medicine:
Schedule an appointment for a yearly physical to assess health risks and maintain optimal health.
Doylestown Health Cardiology, Doylestown, 2020 Happening List Winner for Cardiology:
If needed, visit the cardiologist to maintain and treat any cardiac conditions& to assist risk.
Maintain a Heart Healthy Diet
(per webmd.com & clevelandclinic.org)
Load your plate, pantry and refrigerator with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, foods rich in fiber, proteins such as skinless poultry, lean meats, nuts, fatty fish – salmon, trout & herring & beans. When cooking, flavor foods with fresh herbs and spices instead of salts or heavy sauces. It is recommended to limit salt intake to 2300mg per day (equal to 1 tsp) and 1500 mg per day for those with high blood pressure or at risk. Be sure to read labels on foods and packaging and aim to avoid foods with trans fats and added sugars.
Visit local grocery stores to load up on fresh, flavorful, seasonal nourishing eats. And when dining out, balance heart-healthy choices with the occasional indulgence.
Organnons, Wrightstown, 2020 Happening List Winner for Gourmet Market:
Stop into Organnons to refuel and stock up on local and national brands of healthy packaged & fresh foods, as well as an assortment of pre-made, nourishing meals and snacks! Sign up on their website for their loyalty program to earn points and receive coupons/promotions!)
ShopRite, Yardley, PA & McCaffrey’s Food Market, Yardley/Newtown, 2020 Happening List Finalists for Supermarket:
Visit both ShopRite & McCaffrey’s to load up on a plethora of freshly delivered local and national produce, bulk foods, prepared foods, fresh meats and cheeses and at ShopRite even set up an appointment with the in-store dietician or sign-up for a nutrition/cooking class!
AK Preps & Bakery, Penndel, 2020 Happening List Winner for Healthy Food:
Let AK Preps & Bakery do the cooking/baking for you without compromising on health & nutrition. Stop in for a wide assortment of protein-packed baked goods, grab & go meal options including wraps, salads and full-cooked entrees, as well as healthy snacks including yogurts & more!
Basil Bandwagon, Clinton, Flemington, Lambertville & www.basilbandwagon.com, 2020 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist
Visit the Basil Bandwagon Natural Market for healthy eats and treats, such as chocolate covered strawberries, freshly-made smoothies, fresh produce, and even customize gift baskets to send to friends & loved ones!
Piccolo Trattoria, Newtown, Doylestown & Pennington, 2020 Happening List Finalist for Italian Food
Fill up on healthy, flavorful and Italian specialties and cuisine all made from scratch! Satisfy and nourish a healthy heart with fresh, lean fish, chicken dishes, pasta in its purest form and other Italian eats all without the addition of preservatives or additives. Choose from limited indoor dining, takeout or catering.
Lambertville Station Restaurant & Inn, Lambertville, NJ, 2020 Happening List Winner for Outdoor Dining
Enjoy a scenic and relaxing view while dining inside or out at Lambertville Station. Also offering takeout options via online ordering and even delivery, it is a unique and accommodating experience. Delight in a full lunch/dinner menu, served seven days per week, and choose from a wide range of options, including salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, all made with the finest and freshest ingredients crafted by a renowned chef.
Regular Exercise & Movement
(per webmd.com, CDC.gov & clevelandclinic.org)
Research suggests exercising at least 30 minutes several times per week, totaling around at 150 minutes, weekly. Activities suggested include: bicycling, brisk walking, swimming, yoga and other forms of moderate-intensity aerobic activities and strengthening. No matter how much exercise you do, research suggests sitting for too long can lead to poorer health outcomes, so keep moving. Whether it is parking a distance from a store, using a standing work station, or even moving around while tuning into a favorite TV show, regular movement is key to maintaining heart health.
FitFormula Studio, Levittown, 2020 Happening List Winner for Gym, Lower Bucks:
Sign up for a free-trial and check out their group & personal training classes and options. The studio offers a customized approach, fitness & wellness assessments, as well as nutritional guidance to create for an individualized plan that works best for you and your own needs.
Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, 2020 Happening List Finalist for Gym, Lower Bucks:
Enjoy a variety of workout options including group classes (over 200!), individual personal training, swimming, even a Kids Club, and much more in their renovated and ever-expanding location.
Finisher Fitness, Ivyland, 2020 Happening List Winner for Gym, Central Bucks:
Sign up for a FREE 1-week trial, which includes personal training, mobility classes, boot camps, yoga, cardio & core classes and much more.
Prancing Peacock, Yardley, 2020 Happening List Winner for Yoga:
Choose from in-person studio classes, outdoor yoga, on-demand via their “Peacock TV,” and virtual live-stream yoga classes and instruction. Private sessions are also available and all classes/instruction are offered in beginner to advanced levels.
Central Park/Kids Castle, Doylestown, 2020 Happening List Winner for Park/Playground:
Make movement and recreation a family event and bring the kids along! Engage in brisk walks as children enjoy slides, swings, climbing apparatuses, sliding poles and more. Beyond the playground, enjoy walking trails and areas throughout the park and enjoy the fresh air while taking in steps.
Reduce & Manage Stress Levels
A busy lifestyle, general worries & concerns, the pandemic and life challenges can all promote unhealthy stress levels. Studies show high stress levels can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart conditions. Try taking at least 15 minutes or more per day to unwind and engage in activities that can relieve stress. Leaning on friends and family for support, engaging in exercise, visiting a spa, reading, watching a TV show or movie, listening to music and art-based activities such as drawing and painting, can all help to reduce stress levels.
The Salt Cave, Doylestown, 2020 Happening List Winner for Day Spa:
Visit The Salt Cave and indulge in a luxurious and relaxing massage, 45-minute salt session, facial and more.
Yardley Day Spa, Yardley, 2020 Happening List Finalist for Day Spa:
Treat yourself to a facial, spray-tan, hair cut/color/treatment, waxing, massages, nail manicures and treatments, and other wellness options to soothe and eliminate daily stressors. Even pick-up skin care products to create your own-at-home spa day!
Radiance Spa at the Bucks Club, Jamison, 2020 Happening List Nominee for Day Spa:
Enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating spa, microneedling session, couples session, facial, waxing, or body treatment. You can even shop at their online store for skin care needs and customize your own at home spa treatment. Be sure to check out some of their weekly specials, which include a New Client Special, Tuesdays-Fridays, offering $30 off a 1-hour or longer massage!
Zanya Spa Salon, Lambertville, NJ
Conveniently book an appointment online at Zanya for a stress-relieving hair cut/style/treatment, makeup session, facial or skincare treatment, as well as comprehensive massages and other body care treatments. Health and safety is at the forefront of Zanya’s mission and they consciously work to ensure all protocols are effectively followed.
Beauty Releaf, Beautyreleaf.com
Treat yourself to makeup & skincare of the highest quality at Beauty Releaf. Indulge in lip treatments and even pick up a special-edition, Lip Tasker in “Danielle’s Red” to support Danielle, a scad heart attack survivor with 10% of each purchase in the month of February supporting www.scadresearch.org to further promote research and wellness.
Namaste Nail Sanctuary, Newtown
Indulge a private, socially-distanced manicure or manicure at Namaste, where they emphasize personal hygiene, safety and wellbeing. Each of their chairs offers Deepak Chopra Dream Master audio-visual system that can be used for no extra charge and all services are conducted in a private, enclosed area.
Limit Alcohol Intake
(per webmd.com & clevelandclinic.org):
For women, this means no more than one drink per day & for men, no more than two (one drink equals 4oz of wine – half a glass or 12oz of beer – usually one can or one bottle) Enjoy a flavorful “mocktail” instead, which can easily capture/mimic the taste, appearance, texture and appearance of its alcoholic counterparts!
Greenstraw Smoothies, Newtown, 2020 Happening List Nominee for Healthy Food
Planet Smoothie, Doylestown, 2020 Happening List Nominee for Healthy Food:
Visit both shops for a plethora of custom-made fruit/green/specialty smoothies made from fresh, local ingredients, as well as cold-pressed juices! Plus, enjoy an assortment of healthy eats, including acai and pitaya bowls!
Avoid Smoking & Secondhand Smoke Exposure
(per clevelandclinic.org, American Heart Association & webmd.com)
Studies indicate smokers and those directly exposed to smoke are at an enhanced risk for heart conditions. In fact, the risk is 25-30 percent higher for those exposed to secondhand smoke. The AHA notes exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year! Per Cleveland Clinic, “Nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.”
Maintain a Healthy Sleep Regimen
Adequate levels of sleep each day are key to maintaining optimal heart health. Aim for at least 6-8 hours per night. Studies show this amount can offer protection from heart conditions, as well as other ailments. According to Cleveland Clinic, “A study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.”
Lace Silhouettes Lingerie, Lahaska, 2020 Happening List Winner for Lingerie:
Stop in to pick up cozy, sleep-inducing pajamas, robes, slippers and other essentials! Recent additions include UGG brand robes, socks and loungewear.
Fox & Holly, Lahaska
Prepare & customize a sleep night ritual with an assortment of high-end body washes, creams, Life is Good brand sleepwear and much more.
Bucks County Tee by Bucks Happening
Head to sleep in a relaxing, luxurious, soft, heather grey, 50/50 blend t-shirt showcasing affinity for Bucks Happening! Available in sizes XS through XXL, pick up your own tee HERE and display your love of Bucks in a comforting tee.
Maintain Dental/Oral Hygiene:
Not only does optimal dental and oral hygiene maintain physical appearance, but dental health is also a valuable indicator in overall health. According to Cleveland Clinic, those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Many studies indicate mouth bacteria can cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. As a result, brushing & flossing twice daily, as well as receiving regular dental cleanings is essential to guarding against heart disease.
Bucks County Smiles, Drs. Hopenwasser, Faust, Scholl &Dehbozorgi, Yardley, 2020 Happening List Winner for Dentist:
Take care of your teeth and oral health with regular cleanings and care. At Bucks County Smiles, they incorporate advanced technology into their treatments. Offering digital impressions, laser dentistry and more, they focus on total mouth, body and systemic health.
ROG Orthodontics, Pottstown, Douglasville, Wyomissing
Maintain and enhance your smile at ROG Orthodontics. They offer vast treatment options including traditional braces, Invisalign, Incognito and more. With over 60-years of expertise in the dental care business, the knowledgeable team offers customized treatment plans and payment options.