Friday, February 23, 2018

How Old Is Your Heart? Learn Your Heart Age!

Most U.S. adults have a heart age greater than their actual age, placing them at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Watch this short video to learn why your heart age is important and what you can do to improve it. You can go to to use the Heart Age Calculator!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Healthy Heart, Healthy Body

Why do you need a healthy heart? Your heart plays a very important role in your overall health and well-being; it is the organ that pumps blood and essential nutrients throughout your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Asian Americans. In this column, we will discuss the risk factors of heart disease and the steps you can take to start maintaining a healthy heart.

Heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to various conditions where the heart and blood vessels are not working properly. The most common heart condition is coronary heart disease which involves the blocking or narrowing of the blood vessels by plaque buildup. Plaque is made of substances found in the blood such as fat and cholesterol. In addition to coronary heart disease, plaque buildup may lead to a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain.

Some health conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes may increase your risk of developing heart disease. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when plaque narrows the blood vessels and the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This constant excess pressure can weaken the vessels over time. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is prevalent in the Asian American community, affecting about one in five Asian Americans. You are also more at risk for heart disease if you have an unhealthy lifestyle which may include smoking, excessive alcohol use, uncontrolled stress, and/or not exercising regularly. In addition, genetics and family history play a significant role in your risk for heart disease. If you have a family member with heart disease, it is important to get screened and have a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of developing the disease.

Often referred to as a “silent killer,” heart disease does not usually show signs until the disease has progressed to a serious state. Some people only learn of their condition after a severe incident such as a heart attack or stroke. Signs and symptoms of a heart attack may include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness that does not go away with rest
  • Feeling weak or light-headed
  • Breaking out into a “cold sweat”
  • Pain in the upper body including arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea/vomiting or dizziness
Fortunately, there are many ways to significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease or to reverse a current heart condition. To work towards being heart healthy, you can do the following:
  • Get screened - Make sure to get your routine blood work and your blood pressure checked. Talk to your doctor about how often you should get these screenings. 
  • Eat a healthy diet - Changing your eating habits can significantly reduce your chance of getting heart disease. Remember to read nutrition labels and choose healthier options that lower your sodium, fat, and sugar intake. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Exercise regularly - Routine exercise can help prevent high blood pressure and other heart problems by strengthening your heart. Remember to exercise with moderate intensity at least 30 minutes a day. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight - Being overweight or obese can increase your blood pressure and risk for heart conditions. Talk to your doctor about ways to achieve a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake - Smoking damages your blood vessels, and too much alcohol depletes your body of vitamins and nutrients. Both have been shown to increase your blood pressure. 

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) encourages you to take steps now towards a healthier lifestyle for your heart and overall well-being. Talk to your doctor if you would like more information or have concerns about heart disease. If you are a Montgomery County resident, low income, and uninsured, you can learn more about blood pressure and cholesterol screenings by contacting Montgomery Cares Clinics through MC311 by dialing 240-777-0311.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Recap: Health Promoter Osteoporosis Training

On January 25, AAHI hosted the bi-monthly Health Promoter Training focusing on osteoporosis. The purpose of the training is to ensure our Health Promoters have the most up-to-date information on osteoporosis and understand how this condition affects the Asian American community.

During the training, our Health Promoters learn about the preventative measures community members can partake to lower their risk of getting osteoporosis. One example is to eat food that is high in calcium but is non-diary, which is suitable for Asian Americans consumption due to lactose intolerance. Health Promoters also reviewed the procedures of the bone density screening so that cleanliness can be maintained during the screening for the clients.

The training was well attended and our Health Promoters actively participated in the interactive activity. Thank you for coming!

Click on the picture below to see more pictures from the evening!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

AAHI's January 2018 newsletter is out!

The January 2018 issue of AAHI's newsletter is now available online! Please click the image below to read a full-size version of the newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list today to receive our quarterly newsletters via email!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Asian American Health Initiative wants you to know that there is a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can usually be cured if it is found and treated in the early stages.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV do not know they are infected. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a Pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms.

The good news?
  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, AAHI encourages:
  • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they did not get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy. The Women's Cancer Control Program provides free mammograms, clinical breast exams, and pelvic exam/pap tests to low income uninsured women 40 to 64 years old who are Montgomery County residents. The program is for low income families who are uninsured. Proof of residence in Montgomery County and proof of income is requested. Online users may apply by creating a Service Request or call 240-777-1750 for more information.