For the first time, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have issued guidelines aimed at reducing stroke risk in women. Each year, 55,000 more strokes occur in women than in men and represent the third leading cause of death for women (they’re the fifth leading cause for men).
Highlights of the guidelines include:
- Pregnancy: Women with high blood pressure before pregnancy or a history of preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure) should be considered for a low-dose aspirin regimen to decrease the risk of preeclampsia; aspirin should be taken from the 12th week of gestation until delivery.
Women with a systolic blood pressure of 150 to 159 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of 100 to 109 mm Hg should be considered for blood pressure medication. Pregnant women with blood pressure of 160/110 mm Hg should be treated.
- History of preeclampsia: This condition should be considered a risk factor for stroke later in life.
- Hormonal contraceptives: Having high blood pressure and taking birth control pills raise the risk of stroke, so women should be screened before taking the pill.
- Migraines: Women who experience migraines with aura should avoid smoking to avoid further increasing risk.
- Atrial fibrillation: Women older than 75 should be screened for this heart arrhythmia.
The lemon and garlic give this gluten-free dish a tasty zing.
3½ pounds chicken (skinned and cut into 10 pieces)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ cloves of garlic (thinly sliced, or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
4 thyme sprigs (fresh, or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
3 cups onion (thinly sliced)
1½ cup gluten-free chicken stock (or water)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 lemon (sliced into 10 slices, seeds removed)
- Combine salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Lay chicken pieces into 11×13 baking pan. Sprinkle seasonings over chicken.
- Combine onions, stock and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Pour hot lemon mixture around chicken. Top each chicken piece with a lemon slice.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F until golden brown and juices are clear-colored.
Makes 5 servings. Per serving: 450 calories, 11g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 225mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 6g sugar, 71g protein.
Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Through the ages, people have turned to calm and quiet meditation to draw tension from their bodies. And studies done by Harvard Medical School say relaxation techniques really work when done correctly. Two worth trying:
Relaxation response. Every day, go alone to a quiet place. Sit with eyes closed and focus your thoughts on your breathing until it becomes even and slow. Use four counts to inhale, pause, then exhale four counts. At the same time, repeat one word to yourself such as “calm” or “slow.” Practice daily; soon it will become effortless.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Find a quiet spot and sit or lie comfortably with eyes closed. One by one, tense your muscle groups for 10 seconds, and then release them. Start by scrunching your cheeks, eyes and eyebrows into a knot, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Next, shrug your shoulders, hold and release. Then tense and release your fists, arms, stomach, buttocks, legs and toes. As you release, feel the warmth from your muscles. Imagine “seeing” your stress evaporate.
It is now several weeks into the New Year. How are your resolutions going? If you are having trouble keeping them, try setting them as S.M.A.R.T. goals! What’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal you might ask?
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Specific: Write as much information as you can about your goals. Is there anyone else involved besides you? What exactly do you want to accomplish? What are the precise steps that you need take to make this goal a reality?
Measurable: Give yourself goals that have numbers or values to make it easier to track how you are doing and how close you are getting to reaching your goal. Use benchmarks or milestones if this will help you stay motivated.
Attainable: Are your goals actually in your power to change? Keep in mind finances, body shape, what is going to be good for your health etc. Make sure your goals do not go against the things you cannot change. Visualize the change you want to make and stick to it.
Realistic: Try not to set outlandish goals. Don’t be afraid to take baby steps. It is better to set a smaller goal and then set a new goal once you’ve accomplished the first one than set a large goal that seems/is impossible to reach.
Timely: Put your goals in a time frame to help you keep your focus. Does this time frame give you enough time to safely complete your goals? Where do your milestones fit into the time frame you have set?
Once you have set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, write them down on paper and keep them in a place where you can review them. Place notes around your house as motivation, especially in places where you are more likely to not follow your goals. Write down accomplishments and milestones that you have achieved alongside your original goal and pat yourself on the back!
Here is an example:
Goal – Eat five homemade dinners a week at home.
- Ask my family for help and support of my goal
- Set aside time for and complete meal planning and grocery shopping on Saturday
- Set aside time for and complete as much cooking and preparation of dinner meals for the upcoming week over the weekend, leaving minimal work to do at night
- Do not stop at fast food on my way home from work! Even if I am tired.
- Complete the rest of the cooking process when I get home as needed per night and ENJOY!
This could even be one step in several steps to a long term goal of weight loss. What are some changes that you will make to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.?