heart health

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month. There is no better time to take control of your health by becoming an informed health-care consumer.

Every month is a good month to focus on our health, but February is the month chosen to focus on two important aspects of our health — wise health care consumerism and heart health.

Americans spend more time researching car purchases and new appliances than they do choosing doctors and health plans, according to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine.

February is National Wise Health-Care Consumer Month. There is no better time to take control of your health by becoming an informed health-care consumer. Use this month to make sure you understand your options, know how to communicate with your care providers and can make educated decisions about your health.

Five tips to help you become a wiser health care consumer

Choose your health-care provider: Take your time choosing the right health-care providers for you and your family. It is important to do the research, ask questions, and establish a primary care provider. Be sure to keep a list of your family’s health-care providers and medications.

Understand your coverage plan: Whether you get your medical insurance coverage through Medicare/Medicaid, your employer or another source, make sure you understand your health-care plan and who is in your network. This will save you time and money in the future.

Get annual screenings and checkups: The most common diseases are preventable. Do not ignore symptoms. Be sure to eat well, move your body and keep up with your yearly checkups, screenings and immunizations.

Prepare for appointments: Before an appointment, write a list of questions you have for your health-care provider and take it with you. Do not hesitate to clarify or ask questions if something is unclear to you. Similarly, bring a list of any medications you take and your dosage.

Ask about generic medications: Generic medications can be more affordable and just as effective. Always consult your medical provider if a generic option is appropriate for you.

The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type is coronary artery disease which can cause a heart attack. Other types may involve the heart valves or conditions where the heart may not pump efficiently. Some people are born with heart disease.

Anyone can be at risk for heart disease, including children. A waxy substance called plaque builds up on the walls of arteries causing the walls of arteries to narrow, reducing to flow of blood to the heart. This leads to heart attack.

While there are some factors that put you at risk for heart disease like genetics, there are other factors that you can control. Smoking, eating an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise all increase your risk for heart disease. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes also increase your risk. You should work with your doctor to prevent or treat these medical conditions.

Symptoms of heart attack vary depending upon the type of heart disease, but for many chest discomfort is the first sign. Other symptoms may include:

•Chest pain that does not go away after a few minutes.

•Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back.

•Weakness, light-headedness, nausea or a cold sweat.

•Pain or discomfort in the arms and shoulders.

•Shortness of breath.

If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Find a medical group you trust and where you feel comfortable to establish a wellness file. An annual exam is a great way to prevent disease and illness. Have your physician review a healthy weight range and see if you fall in those parameters. Find out if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, and if you do, seek effective treatment. Get screened for pre-diabetes, especially if you are overweight.

Practice control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.

Southern Fish in Foil

1 pound white fish, cut into 4 servings

1 medium lemon, cut half into thin slices and save the other half

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons Italian spices

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 550°F. Cut 4 (12-by- 20-inch) sheets of foil.

Combine Italian spices, garlic powder, salt and pepper into a small bowl. Squeeze lemon and rub a

couple of drops of hot sauce onto each fish filet. Then, rub the spice mixture on the fish filet. Place each

piece of fish on one sheet of foil.

Drizzle the remaining oil on the fish and top with lemon slices. Fold foil over fish, crimping edges tightly to seal packets. Remember to leave enough room for packets to


Place packets on a large baking sheet.Bake in oven for 9-11 minutes. Fish should be just opaque in

center. You can test doneness by sticking a toothpick through the packet. It should slide through the fish easily. Carefully open packets; hot steam will escape.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition facts per serving: 160 calories; 6g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 60mg cholesterol; 320mg sodium; 1g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 26g protein.

Editor’s note: Information for this article was obtained from Natalie Jones, MPH, UK Cooperative Extension family health specialist and the Center of Disease Control. The recipe was downloaded from “Plan. Eat. Move,” an informational website provided by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Nutrition Education Program.

Reach Cecelia Hostilo, Trigg County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, at P. O. Box 271 (2657 Old Hopkinsville Road), Cadiz, KY 42211, by phone at 270-522-3269, fax at 270-522-9192 or email cecelia.hostilo@uky.edu.

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