By Cherise Tasker
By jchatoff from venice beach, usa (berries Uploaded by hike395) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A blackberry is a beautiful thing. In its own red-black, tiny, grape-like cluster, one blackberry delivers juice, crunch, and many health benefits. Like its fellow berries, straw, blue, ras and cran, to name a few, the blackberry is delicious and nutritious. While each type of berry is beautiful in its own way–the glorious color, lovely shape and unique taste–all berries provide us with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, electrolytes, dietary fiber, and even a small amount of protein.
Plants produce compounds called phytochemicals. Many phytochemicals are antioxidants. Anitoxidants are molecular substances that in some studies have been shown to protect cells from the negative effect of free radicals. Free radicals arise in the body as a byproduct of normal internal processes such as digestion or due to exposure to external toxins such as cigarette smoke and radiation. Free radicals’ effects on cells may contribute to the aging process and to the development of cancer. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidant phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals with antioxidant effects include vitamins A, C, and E. These vitamins have other beneficial properties as well. Our bodies use vitamin A to produce pigments for the photoreceptor cells for night vision. Vitamin C is utilized in collagen production. As a component of connective tissues, collagen is important for wound healing and maintenance of strong bones. Vitamin C is also used in chemical pathways that synthesize molecules critical to brain function and energy production. Vitamin E plays an important role in maintaining normal platelet and immune cell function.
Carotenoids, the red, yellow, and orange pigments in plants, are also a type of phytochemical with antioxidant and health-supportive properties. Studies have shown that carotenoids may help reduce the incidence of heart attack and cancer. Carotenoid molecules are found in the lens and retina of the eye, making this nutrient important to eye health. Carotenoids’ antioxidant properties may lend some protection against acute macular degeneration. Because of its unique molecular structure, carotenoids absorb light and may also have a vision-protective effect, including the possible prevention of acute macular degeneration (AMD). Carotenoids are converted to vitamin A as well, helping to assure the ability to see in low lighting conditions. Carotenoids give berries their orange and gold color.
Polyphenols are a type of phytochemical that include the flavonoid subgroup. In addition to its antioxidant effects, flavonoids interact with various enzyme systems in the body, resulting in anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-allergic activity. Studies have shown that flavonoids may also be cardioprotective. One category of flavonoids, anthocyanins, has been linked to the prevention of memory loss. Anthocyanins give berries their blue, purple, and red color.
The Blackberry. The anthocyanins that give blackberries their rich color also lend this fruit its antioxidant capacity. In addition to their high-fiber content, blackberries also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels. Studies have been conducted on blackberry wine for its potential health benefits. Although data to date is inconclusive, studies on the health effect of the beautiful berries continue.
The Blueberry. High in vitamin C and anthocyanins, blueberries have a substantial amount of fiber as well. The fiber makes blueberries particularly filling and a good choice for those who are watching their calorie intake. Blueberries are also a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps optimize the conversion of carbohydrates and fat into energy. Blueberries contain the carotenoid lutein, which may help slow the progression of AMD.
The Cranberry. Traditionally, cranberry juice has been promoted as helpful in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). The thinking was that the berry juice acidified the urine, making it inhospitable to bacteria growth. More recent studies suggest that chemicals (possibly the anthocyanins) in the cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, thus preventing UTIs. Cranberries also contain salicylic acid, an ingredient in aspirin, and may help prevent blood clots. Proanthocyanidine, a flavonoid found in cranberries, has been found to prevent dental plaque formation.
The Raspberry. Usually a pink-red color, raspberries are also available in white, gold, purple, and black varieties. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and anthocyanins. Raspberries are also high in potassium, an electrolyte important to maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
The Strawberry. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, polyphenols, fiber, potassium, and manganese. Just 8 strawberries provide more vitamin C than an orange. It is commonly noted that strawberries are both heart-shaped and heart-protective. Because they are high in fiber, they may help lower cholesterol levels. Their antioxidant components may offer anti-inflammatory protection and decrease the risks for blood clots.
Please, enjoy the spring with a bowl of beautiful berries.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) was yesterday. One hopes you remembered to reset any clocks that don’t rely on satellites, like your car, your watch, and your cellphone that’s so out of date it uses a rotary dial. If not, SURPRISE! You’re probably going to be late for work.
In addition to making you sleepy or awake at odd hours and confusing you by being sunny at 7pm, the time shift affects your health in a number of ways. Anyone’s sleep patterns can be disrupted by the switch, but “night owls” tend to be more affected by springing forward than early birds.
If your health is already compromised, the effect on your body is greater. If you’re stressed, depressed, have poor dietary or exercise habits, you are at a greater risk for and adverse reaction. The time changes can raise the levels of inflammatory chemicals and stress hormones, which can lead to serious side effects.
Because the start of DST can result in sleep deprivation for many, affecting heart health, there is a spike in heart attacks the first week after the time shift. The first week also sees a spike in car accidents due to sleepy drivers, but in general people are safer drivers during daylight hours, causing a drop in accidents during the rest of the period. U.S. News Health claims that DST can prevent hundreds of car accidents each year.
DST can keep you healthy by serving as a reminder to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Have you done that yet? Because seriously, you should do that even if the smoke detector is hard to reach and it makes an annoying sound when you change batteries.
If you find you are not adapting to DST, you can always try these tips from Dr. Praveen Rudraraju, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital: get up five to 10 minutes earlier for the first two weeks of DST to accommodate any increased sluggishness; incorporate 30 to 40 minutes of exercise in bright daylight to your daily routine; space out your meals before you go to bed, at least 3-5 hours before hitting the hay; quit the caffeine before noon, limit drinking to one with dinner, and do not have any alcohol after dinner; don’t work on the computer at least an hour before bedtime; and stay out of the bedroom until bedtime. You can also try any of HCLS’s many resources on sleep, such as:
Posted by HCGH on Feb 19, 2013 in Cardiac | 0 comments
February is Heart Month – Howard County Resident Learns the Importance of Calling 911
Columbia, Md. – As he finished dinner on Oct. 2, Bob Kronberger was focused on preparing for an evening meeting…the last thing on his mind was a heart attack. “I got up from the table
and was sweating like crazy,” he explained. “I laid down and felt pain in my chest, but I was in total denial. I didn’t think it was any kind of emergency.” It was Bob’s wife, Barbara, who insisted they call 911. “I said ‘no way’ but she was adamant and thank God she did. I really credit her with saving my life. People like me will try to get out of calling 911, but someone has to take charge and make the call and she did it!”
When a heart attack happens, delay in treatment can be deadly. Learn the warning symptoms of a heart attack, and know the single most important thing you can do to save a life: call 911 immediately for emergency medical care. Bob Kronberger is thankful that his wife insisted on making that call.
When firefighters and paramedics arrived, the electrocardiogram (EKG) showed that Bob was in the middle of a specific type of heart attack, called a STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). “The paramedic said, ‘we are taking you to the hospital you’re having a heart attack’,” said Bob. “Once I heard her say it out loud, everything felt real – that’s when I got scared.”
Because of the strong, cooperative relationship between Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department, the EMTs were able to activate the hospital’s Heart Attack Team of physicians, nurses and technologists, so that the cardiac catheterization suite was prepared for his arrival.
“When I got to the emergency room, I felt like a rock star with all of these people gathered around me,” said Bob. He was whisked off to the cardiac catheterization laboratory, where interventional cardiologist Feroz Padder, M.D., was able to remove the blood clot that was creating a 100 percent blockage in Bob’s right coronary artery and place a stent to keep the artery open.
“From the 911 call takers, to the staff at the hospital to our paramedics – it’s really because of great partnerships like these that we can bring about the best patient outcome,” said Kevin Seaman, M.D., HCDFRS Medical Director. “It’s also important to emphasize the importance of learning CPR because bystanders can make all the difference in helping save someone’s life.”
In the months since his heart attack, Bob has been participating in HCGH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program. With the help of supervised exercise sessions and educational presentations about healthy eating and lifestyle, Bob says he has a whole different attitude on life. He has lost 30 pounds and is making healthier food choices.
“My whole experience has been great,” says Bob.
HCGH’s Cardiac Catheterization Program is co-chaired by Peter Johnston, M.D., from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and George Groman, M.D., from HCGH.
Additional Helpful Information
Heart Attack Symptoms
- Chest pain or pressure, tightness, squeezing, burning, aching, or heaviness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Profuse sweating
- Unusual discomfort in left arm or jaw
- A choking sensation
- Anxiety or a feeling of impending doom
- No symptoms occur with a silent heart
What to do if you are experiencing symptoms
- Call 911 immediately
- Cardiologists recommend chewing one adult aspirin while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
More bad news for the Boomer generation- those born 1946 – 1964.
Although great medical advances have been made in the Boomer lifetime, contributing to greater life expectancies, the Boomer generation may be much less healthy than the previous Silent Generation.
A study released online last week in the JAMA Internal Medicine examined the health status of aging Baby Boomers relative to the previous generation. Here are the grim statistics:
- Overall, only 13.2 percent of Boomers reported themselves in “excellent health” compared to 32% of individuals in the previous generation
- Diabetes has more than doubled in just one generation. 15.5% of Boomers have diabetes compared to only 6.2% of individuals in their parent’s generation
- High Blood Pressure? 43% of Boomers vs 36.4% of the Silent Generation
- Obesity increased to 38.7% of Boomers from 29.4% in the previous generation
- High Cholesterol is clogging up the works for 73.5% of Boomers versus only 33.8% of individuals in the Silent Generation
So that’s bad news, but it’s an active generation, right? They run and compete in triathlons and walk the Malls and they know the importance of physical activity, don’t they? Well… Boomers might talk the talk, but they surely don’t walk the walk.
- Only about 35% of Boomers exercise more than 12 times per month- down from nearly 50% a generation ago
- More than half of all Boomers report NO regular physical activity
On a national level, what exactly does this generational good-health deficit mean? According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Boomers made up 26.1 percent of the population. Unless these health statistics turn around, the Boomer Generation could strain our workforce numbers and, in the coming decades, impact our ability to provide adequate healthcare- important considerations for future policy planning.
The impact on a personal and individual level is even more significant. In addition to increased financial costs, Boomers will struggle with quality of life issues. While statistics may indicate that Boomers will live longer, they also indicate that the value of those additional years may be diminished by poor health.
Change is never easy… but surely it’s time to change?
Posted by HCGH on Feb 5, 2013 in Cardiac, Health | 0 comments
From patient to volunteer – making a difference in Cardiac Rehab
Bill Bishop assisting a patient.
On a cold January day in 1991, William (Bill) Bishop was stacking firewood when he felt a chest pain and was having trouble breathing. At first he thought it was just the cold air, but then realized something was very wrong and came into the HCGH’s ED to learn he had just had a heart attack. He was under the care of cardiologist David Jackson, M.D., who has been the medical director of the HCGH Cardiac Rehabilitation program for 30 years.
Eighteen years later, on a hot August day in 2009, he had a second heart attack. This time he recognized the symptoms and called 911. Julie Miller, M.D., a Johns Hopkins cardiologist on duty that day at HCGH, was able to treat him locally. She performed a stent procedure on Bishop and he continued to see Jackson for follow-up treatment.
“Dr. Jackson tried to sign me up for the HCGH Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, but, since I was working at the Columbia Gym and could exercise there, I didn’t feel it was necessary for me to enroll.” Bill realized that he wasn’t doing all that he should to maintain a healthy lifestyle and was not exercising consistently. “In October 2009, I entered the 36-session Cardiac Rehab program under the care of Dr. Jackson, where I was carefully monitored, encouraged, and have truly improved my general health and fitness,” Bishop continued.
After finishing the program, he wanted to give something back to the department, and asked Preeti Benjamin, manager of Cardiac and Pulmonary Services, if she needed any volunteers. She said she’d be happy to have his help, and Bishop became a morning volunteer (Mon, Wed. and Thurs.) assisting the staff and cardiac rehab patients. “It’s a way to pay back for all of the help I got here! They run a well-organized program and all of the staff members are very serious about their work. Some of our patients need guidance performing their exercises or just want to talk. If they ask a question that I can’t answer, I refer them to one of the staff members.” He also noted that the camaraderie that develops among patients, clinicians and volunteers helps patients build the confidence they need to get back to the activities they care about. “It definitely made a difference in my life,” Bishop said.
Benjamin, who has been with the Cardiac and Pulmonary Services for 13 years, remarked, “Volunteers like Bill and all of our staff have a positive effect on our patients. The patients have connected with Bill and he’s made some of them want to give back to the hospital in a number of ways, including donating to the Howard Hospital Foundation.” Benjamin added, “The patients enrolled in the program are actively engaged in adopting a healthy lifestyle by increasing their exercise endurance, eating healthier food and practicing stress management techniques. Our rehab program can improve their overall health, wellbeing, and outlook on life.”
Posted by HCGH on Jan 31, 2012 in Cardiac, Events | 0 comments
by Mary Catherine Cochran
“Cholesterol can be both good and bad”, explains Dr. George Groman, a cardiologist on staff at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Because having too much on one kind and not enough of the other can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke, it is important to understand the difference between the two and know the amount of each in your blood.”
What Are the Ideal Numbers?
- Total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL
- An HDL level of 60 mg/dL and above
- An LDL level of less than 100 mg/dL
Higher Risk Numbers:
- Total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher
- HDL level less than 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women
- An LDL level of 160 mg/dL and above.
Good versus Bad
“Good cholesterol (HDL) helps keep the bad cholesterol (LDL) from building up on the walls of the arteries supplying blood and oxygen to your heart and brain. This build-up narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible- a condition called atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks the artery, you can have a heart attack or stroke, “says Dr. Groman. While your body naturally produces LDL, your genes and the food you eat can elevate your LDL levels, putting you at risk. In addition to your HDL and LDL levels, it’s important to monitor your triglyceride level. You can have elevated levels of this fat, which is formed by your body, if you are overweight/obese, physically inactive, smoke, consume excessive amounts of alcohol and have a diet very high in carbohydrates. “Often people with high triglyceride levels have high LDL and low HDL levels,” comments Dr. Groman.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends all adults age 20 and older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile- which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides- once every five years if there are no other cardiac risk factors. “This test is performed after you fast for nine to 12 hours,” explains Dr. Cecily Agcaoili, a primary care physician on staff at HCGH. “To get a comprehensive picture of your heart disease risk, your doctor will factor in the reported total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels as well as other risk factors including your age, gender, family history, if you smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes.”
“Because people do not usually exhibit symptoms as a result of having high cholesterol, it’s very important to get tested. High cholesterol can be controlled, and you play an active part in protecting your health by working with your physician to monitorand maintain healthy cholesterol levels,” says Dr. Agcaoili. Knowing your cholesterol levels and taking the necessary steps to maintain healthy HDL and LDL levels are part of the seven key steps the AHA has established for living healthier, know as Life’s Simple 7.
Life’s Simple 7
- Get Active
- Eat Better
- Control Cholesterol
- Lose Weight
- Manage Blood Pressure
- Stop Smoking
- Reduce Blood Sugar
Resources in our Community
According to Marilyn Smedberg-Gobbett, support network coordinator for WomenHeart of Central Maryland, a program of the national Coalition of Women with heart Disease, being educated about heart disease, knowing your numbers- blood pressure and cholesterol- as well as your family history is vital. Howard County General Hospital holds an ongoing WomenHeart Support group that provides education and expert speakers. Call 443 854-8333 for information about group meeting times and locations.
Be sure to stop by at the Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine FREE Cardiovascular Clinic at Center Court in the Mall in Columbia on March 3 from 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Registration is not required. Visit our booths and speak with our physician experts. Participate in screenings including height and weight measurements, total cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass index.
Do you receive Wellness Matters, Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine’s health magazine? If not, and you wish to receive this free magazine, call us at 410 740-7810 and we’ll add you to the list!