NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Nourish Your Heart for Good Health

heart health, blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke, Nourishing Boomers and Beyond program

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences


Do you know your blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, you are at greater risk for stroke and heart attacks because your heart has to work harder. High blood pressure also may damage the health of your eyes, brain and kidneys. It’s often called the “silent killer” because you may not have any symptoms.

High blood pressure is defined as 140/90 mmHg, or millimeters of mercury. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 mmHg.

Excessive sodium in our diet can increase our blood pressure, especially in salt-sensitive individuals. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Heart disease and stroke are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the U.S., making cardiovascular disease responsible for one of every three deaths in the country.

One way to lower your blood pressure is to eat a heart-healthy diet high in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and veggies, and calcium from low-fat or fat-free dairy foods such as milk and yogurt. Regular physical activity also helps protect against cardiovascular disease and its risk factors: hypertension, obesity and diabetes mellitus. It also can reduce risk of osteoporosis, reduce stress and improve sleep and overall mood.

On average, your heart beats about 100,000 times per day, pumping nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Taking this hard-working group of muscles for granted can be easy. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Having regular checkups and discussing any health-related issues with your physician or health-care provider is important.

If you’d like to make some changes in your diet or lifestyle to improve your heart health, the North Dakota State University Extension Service can help. The Extension office in Mercer County is holding a class on February 9, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Beulah Civic Center.

This class is part of NDSU Extension’s Nourishing Boomers and Beyond program. The program is designed to provide rural North Dakotans age 50 and older with information and strategies to reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases. However, any adult can benefit from the information.

Nourishing Boomers and Beyond offers classes on a different topic each month. Participants will be able to take part in hands-on activities and discussions, and they’ll receive material such as handouts and healthful recipes to take home.

If you aren’t able to attend a class or want more information on the topic covered in a session, visit the program’s website at www.ndsu.edu/boomers. Anyone can sign up for the free monthly newsletter by visiting the website or contacting your local Extension office at 873-5195. Participating county Extension offices will have Facebook pages to interact with their clients, and we’re on Pinterest at “nourishboomers.”

Things you’ll learn about in February include heart-healthy foods and how stress affects heart health.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., NDSU Food and Nutrition Specialist

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