High blood pressure, readings above 140/90 mmHg,  affects one in three Americans and increases risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.  This condition will cost the US over $75 billion in 2010!

A recent study published in the American Heart Journal evaluated data from 35,000 patients, mostly white men, collected over a 20 year period.  The doctors focused on blood pressure, fitness level and body composition. 

The people who were overweight or obese had a higher systolic (top number) blood pressure as was expected. Interestingly, the fitness level of these individuals had little impact on their blood pressure readings.

The study found that only people of normal weight seemed to gain a positive benefit in blood pressure readings depending on fitness levels.  The authors suggest the possibility that fitness alone cannot overcome the negative physical effects of being overweight or obese.

Based on these findings, weight control should be the number one focus of people trying to lower their blood pressure and increasing physical fitness should be a secondary goal.

HOWEVER, this does not mean that regular exercise is discouraged! Research has shown that overweight but fit individuals aren’t any more likely to die from heart disease and stroke than thin, fit people. So, exercise does have an overall benefit for long term health and well being.  This article only focused on blood pressure, which is one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The bottom line is the ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy weight and include exercise in your daily routine to obtain the best fitness level possible!!!

To learn more about your risk factors for heart disease and how to lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes and control blood pressure check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart” on our website www.heart-strong.com


Do you or someone you know snore? That snoring could be Sleep Apnea – and it could kill you!


 Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have pauses in breathing (actually stop breathing) or shallow breaths while you sleep.  Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep.

When I lecture about sleep apnea and heart disease I often ask people to take a deep breath and hold it for about 20 to 30 seconds (why not try it now)…

Okay after the 30 seconds let the breath out.  That is how long many people with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, often several times every hour.

Take a look at this short PSA on Sleep Apnea:

Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes!
  • Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
  • Lead to irregular heartbeats  
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

 Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings at night sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

Sleep apnea can be treated once it is diagnosed. By treating your sleep apnea you can actually also protect your heart from future problems.

For more info on sleep apnea visit www.sleepapnea.org

For more info about risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com

We are nurses practitioners who have spent years taking care of people with heart disease and our mission now is to help people PREVENT heart attacks and strokes.  We have written two books that may help you learn about your individual risk factors and what you can do to prevent heart problems, strokes and diabetes.  “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart – So simple you will not even have to stop and ask for directions” – our books offer realistic steps to help you develop a healthier lifestyle, all of the information in the books comes from the latest medical guidelines available and is written in an easy to follow and understand format.

Women & Heart Disease Across the Lifespan (Part 3): Older Women


During this final installment of our 3 part series about women and heart disease we will be focusing on heart problems older women are more likely to experience. Some of the things we will discuss are heart failure, diastolic dysfunction, atrial fibrillation, aortic valve disease and sudden cardiac death.

Listen to internet radio with Heartstrong on Blog Talk Radio

Too Many Stroke Patients are Missing an Important Medication


The May 27th online issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that more than 16% of stroke patients are being discharged without a potentially life-saving medication.  These medications are called statins and they are generally used to reduce levels of the artery clogging cholesterol, LDL.  Common names for the statins are Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor.

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagle, associate professor of neurology and director at the UCLA Stroke Prevention Program, UCLA Stroke Center and Department of Neurology stated that about one in ten stroke patients experience a second stroke within a week.  If statin therapy is started immediately at the hospital, a second stroke could possibly be prevented.

The good news is that there has been an increase in the number of patients being given prescriptions for the statin medicines between 2005 and 2007.  There has been an increase from 76% to nearly 85% of patients receiving statins.

There did seem to be a disparity in the type of patient and geographic location of the patient receiving the statin prescriptions.  Women had a 13% lower rate of receiving the medication than men and hospitals in the South were 34% less likely to discharge a patient on a statin than hospitals in the West.

If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke, check your medication list and be sure that a statin (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, or one of the others) is on the list.  If not, discuss it with your healthcare provider!  There are certain medical conditions that would prevent a person from taking a statin medication.

 For more valuable health information visit us at www.heart-strong.com.

Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan (Part 2 – Baby Boomers)

During this show we will discuss heart problems women may start to experience around menopause. “The Menopause Triple Threat” – weight gain, high blood pressure & cholesterol problems. Heart attack & stroke risk factors, “Broken Heart Syndrome”
Listen to internet radio with Heartstrong on Blog Talk Radio

Women Unaware of the Warning Signs of a Stroke


On average in this country it takes a woman 45 minutes longer to seek care for a heart attack or stroke. A new online survey may help explain why…

 Only one in four women aged 25 to 75 could name at least 2 symptoms of a stroke.

Women surveyed weren’t aware that women suffer more strokes than men.

One-quarter of the women surveyed were unaware that stroke could happen at any age.

Black and Hispanic women knew fewer facts about stroke than white women.

The main symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden difficulty speaking, understanding speech, or confusion
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the limbs, particularly on one side
  • Sudden facial drooping or numbness and weakness on one side of the face
  • Sudden balance problems, dizziness or trouble walking
  • Sudden difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache (the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life)

When someone has a stroke they may only experience one or two of these symptoms or may experience several symptoms depending on the location of the brain being affected.  A stroke is also called a “Brain Attack” so just like a heart attack you need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible in order to prevent permanent damage. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms call 911 and get to the hospital as quickly as possible!

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke. Remember high blood pressure is called the silent killer because most people do not have any symptoms when their blood pressure is elevated. The only way to know for sure that your blood pressure is elevated is to get it checked on a regular basis.  Just because you are taking blood pressure medications does not mean your blood pressure is controlled. Goal blood pressure numbers for men and women are less than 120/80. If you do not know your blood pressure – what are you waiting for get it checked today.

For more heart healthy information please visit www.heart-strong.com

This online-only survey included 2,000 women in the United States, and was undertaken on behalf of HealthyWomen in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians and National Stroke Association.

Quick 3 Minute Overview on Blood Pressure


This is a video I filmed discussing high blood pressure, what your blood pressure numbers mean and things you can do to control your blood pressure. Why not take 3 minutes to learn the blood pressure basics…