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Heart-healthy Valentine’s

Do you know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels?

To maintain a healthy heart, these numbers are critical to know and should be monitored on a regular basis.

The ideal normal blood pressure, as established by the Joint National Commission, is 120/80 or lower for all age groups—except in cases where lower blood pressure causes inordinate symptoms. For those with an elevated blood pressure, decreasing it is essential if possible.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure progressively damage the structure of the heart and blood vessels. A person with high blood pressure or high cholesterol may only see symptoms after irreversible damage has been done.

Current guidelines state that for an individual at otherwise low 10-year cardiovascular risk, a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level lower than 160 mg/dl (usually associated with a total cholesterol of about 240 mg/dl) is satisfactory.

However, to Dr. Thomas Whayne, a cardiologist at University of Kentucky’s Gill Heart Institute, this appears excessively permissive.

“A more appropriate level for everyone, regardless of other cardiovascular risk status, is to have an LDL level lower than 100 mg/dl,” Whayne says.

The generally accepted ideal for patients with high cardiovascular risk—including those with previous cardiovascular events, multiple cardiovascular risk factors, or diabetes—is an LDL level less than 70 mg/dl.

“The adage ‘lower is better’ for the LDL is well-substantiated for the patient with high cardiovascular risk,” Whayne says.


• Know your blood pressure numbers.

• Learn how to manage your blood pressure, whether it is through lifestyle changes or medication (when prescribed).

• Home monitoring can be important when you are diagnosed with high blood pressure. Work with your doctor to choose the right home monitor, and check your pressure on a regular basis. Recording your results for your physician can also be important.

Healthy tips

Healthy tips posted on our private, online Facebook Kentucky Living Health Club, from members who are getting healthy during our four-month challenge that ends March 31, 2012:

• To get off the soft drinks, I recommend Propel and Crystal Light while you make the transition from soda to water. —Beth from Union

• I use for their free food database, and recommend it as a valuable resource tool. —Steve from Union, Owen Electric Cooperative

• I heard on Dr. Oz that sucking on a peppermint will reduce your cravings because it changes your taste buds, which is probably along the lines of what toothpaste does. (Also try brushing your teeth earlier at night so you’re not tempted to snack.) —Daphne from Hodgenville, Nolin RECC

• Plan healthy snacks; carry some in your car or purse (and stash some at work) so you don’t grab fast food or sweets. —Lisa Capehart, an exercise physiologist and certified wellness coach from Foster, Blue Grass Energy Cooperative

• To relieve stress, try the downloadable app Music Healing 2.0 that offers soothing background music ($2.99 for a multi-platform version at or download Music Healing 2 for iPhone or iPad for free). —Anita Travis Richter, Louisville, Kentucky Living

• To help keep track of calorie intake and burning, track exercise, and water intake, I use It also has a journaling area. —Marsha from Shepherdsville, Salt River Electric

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