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  Love Your Heart  
  Heart disease is often called the silent killer. Two Central Florida heart specialists share what you can do to reduce your risks and get or stay heart healthy.  
By Tarre Beach

It’s February and love is in the air. It’s the time of year when we regularly see hearts, roses and shouts of “amour, amour, amour.” It’s also Heart Health Month. For many of us, that doesn’t mean much unless we’ve been touched by the tragedy of heart disease. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, one in four Americans died from heart disease related issues. The numbers get even worse for women, especially women of color. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women and more women than men die from it each year. 
 All this doesn’t sound like a very pleasant way to start off Valentine’s Day, but according to Kim Dawson, director of operations for the cardiovascular department at Florida Hospital Orlando, it could just save your life or the life of someone you love. 
Dawson, who is also a registered nurse, says knowing your risk factors is the first step to preventing or mitigating your chances for being diagnosed with heart disease.
“The American Heart Association has a great way of helping people understand their risks for heart disease. They call it ‘My Life Check,’” Dawson says. “It’s a life assessment that takes into account certain critical factors, such as lifestyle and blood pressure, to give you a heart score and steps you can take to improve that score.”

The More You Know
Working in cardiovascular healthcare for 15 years, Dawson says one of the many problems with heart disease is that too many people believe it is an older person’s illness. “We have seen more and more young people with heart disease than ever before. Some of it is heredity and children are born with heart issues, but some of it is from children leading sedentary lifestyles and eating way too many calories. Type 2 diabetes is on the rise among American children,” Dawson says. 
Dr. Thomas Walsh, a cardiologist with Florida Heart Group in downtown Orlando agrees that maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) for children and adults is a one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. 
“Making sure you and your family get at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day is key to staying heart healthy,” he says. Both Dawson and Walsh mention using “wearables,” or pedometers and other tech-savvy devices that count how much you move in a day, can help. Some devices even have an alarm that sounds to let you know you’ve been sitting for too long and it’s time to get up and move around. 
Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are also important. “Even if you feel healthy, everyone should get a physical to find out these numbers annually,” Dr. Walsh says. “It is one of the fastest ways we can see where you stand heart-wise that is truly non-invasive.”

What You Can Do
The biggest thing you can do to improve your heart health is quit smoking. Dr. Walsh says the incidence of having a heart episode decreases drastically even after only a few months of smoking cessation. Dawson reminds that even second-hand smoke is risky. If you have children, smoking in the home or car with them is harmful to their hearts. 
Dr. Walsh, who works in what he calls the plumbing of the heart as opposed to the wiring of the heart, says there are many new procedures and methods for helping those who have heart disease or other heart-related issues. “It is an amazing time to be in cardiology. We know more and more and are using highly technical and less invasive procedures to reduce cardiac arrest in individuals with heart disease. Besides having good genes, the old adage of eating right, exercising and not smoking are probably the simplest ways to help improve your odds against heart disease.”

Eat Right, Right Now
Naturally, hereditary heart disease is a factor for those suffering from this debilitating illness. But, Dr. Walsh says, if you know you have heart disease in your family, you can still do something to limit the negative affects and harm heart disease can do to your body. 
Hammering home how dangerous smoking is once again, Dr. Walsh says if you have heart-related issues in your family history, smoking cessation is a must. If you are overweight, increasing your activity and decreasing your calories – particularly empty calories from sweets, highly processed foods and high-fat, low-fiber foods – will go a long way in improving your heart health as well as your mood. 
“There are studies that show that people who eat more servings of fruits and vegetables and lower their intake of calories from red meat and highly-processed foods are self identified as happier than those who predominately get their calories from high-fat, low-fiber diets,” Dr. Walsh says. 
So if you want to be happier, healthier and show your love for yourself and your loved ones, why not take a heart health assessment and make a commitment to improving or maintaining your health heart now.

Lightened-up Comfort Food
For that romantic dinner for two this Valentine’s Day, why not skip the fancy evening out and make a better-for-you version of this meal at home? To get the nutrition information and full recipes for the dishes below – provided by the American Heart Association – visit our website at CentralFloridaLifestyle.com. 

Slow-Cooked Pot Roast with Vegetables
This recipe for slow-cooked pot roast is a Southern-American favorite that’s easy and delicious. The dish uses lean meat, plenty of veggies, and comes in at only 211 calories per serving. 

-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 1/2 lb. beef top round roast in one piece, all visible fat discarded
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 medium yellow onion, about one cup, thinly sliced
-3 clove garlic, chopped into 4 pieces each
-2 stalk celery, about 1 cup, cut into 1-inch pieces
-2 potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
-2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
-1 cup water

Remove meat from refrigerator an hour before cooking, trim and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a deep heavy oven proof pot heat the olive oil to medium and sear the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onions, garlic, celery, potatoes, carrots and water. Cover and bake in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the meat from the pot and allow it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for 15 minutes before you slice into quarter-inch slices. This allows the juices in the meat to redistribute so this lean cut of meat is moister. Serve with the cooked vegetables on the side and the pan juices over the meat.

Nutritional Info:
Calories Per Serving 211, Total Fat 5.6g, Saturated Fat 1.4g, Trans Fat 0.0 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.9g, Cholesterol 57mg, Sodium 158mg, Carbohydrates15g, Fiber 3g, Sugars 3g, Protein 25g.
-This dish will keep developing its flavors and will taste even better the next day. The juice also makes a flavorful and healthier alternative to gravy.
-Serve this with a simple green salad on the side. This is a good one-dish meal in cooler weather.
-You can add cabbage to this dish 30 minutes before it’s done. It will become tender and delicious with the meat and vegetable juices.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Almond-Mocha Topping
Cupcakes are a fun way to have a small taste of something sweet, making it easier to indulge without going overboard. This recipe is a real treat because it tastes decadent but the fat content is mostly good fats.  

Ingredients for Cupcakes:
-18.25 oz. devil’s food cake mix (1 box)
-2.5 oz. jarred, puree baby food prunes
-1 cup strong coffee OR
-1 cup water PLUS
-2 tsp. instant coffee granules
-3 large egg whites
-2 Tbsp. canola or corn oil

Ingredients for Sauce:
-24 oz. packaged, frozen, unsweetened raspberries, thawed
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
-1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for Topping:
-2 tsp. instant coffee granules
-2 tsp. water
-8 oz. frozen, fat-free whipped topping, thawed in refrigerator
-2/3 cup sliced almonds, dry-roasted

Preheat the oven to 325°F, or as directed on the package. Lightly spray two 12-cup muffin pans with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cupcake ingredients. Follow the package directions for beating the batter and baking and cooling the cupcakes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, stir together the raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together the coffee granules and water until the coffee is dissolved. Fold in the whipped topping until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until needed. For each serving, spread 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons raspberry sauce on a dessert plate, top with a cupcake, spoon 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whipped topping mixture over the cupcake, and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons almonds.

Nutritional Info:
Calories Per Serving 173, Total Fat 4.0g, Saturated Fat 1.0g, Trans Fat 0.0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.0g, Cholestero l0 mg, Sodium 198 mg, Carbohydrates 31g, Fiber 2.0g, Sugars 18gm, Protein 2.0g. 

-For each serving, spread 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons raspberry sauce on a dessert plate, top with a cupcake, then spoon 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whipped topping mixture over the cupcake, and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons almonds.
-When shopping for cake mix, read the Nutrition Facts labels and choose a product with 0 grams of trans fat. You can refrigerate any leftovers from this recipe for up to 48 hours or freeze them for later use. Keep the cupcakes, the sauce, and the whipped topping in separate airtight containers.

Source: American Heart Association
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