Ideas, meetings to keep you healthy in 2013

Heres to a healthy new year. What can you do to enhance the good things you already do? Focusing on small steps and improvements provides a greater chance for success. I suggest a couple of health items to start the year off.

January is Radon Awareness Month. I encourage you to check your home for presence of radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer. A simple three-day screening lets you know that your level is below 4 picocuries per liter. In our community, levels have ranged from 1 up to over 300 pCi/L. To learn more about radon in our community and your home, attend the free presentation at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 16 in the Animas Room of the La Plata County Fairgrounds, where you can obtain the necessary screening kit (very limited availability).

What do you know about women and cardiovascular disease? This includes diseases of the heart as well as vascular such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease, ischemic attack, myocardial infarction to name a few. In 2003, the American Heart Association found that only 46 percent of women older than 25 correctly identified heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. Though heart attacks and strokes have decreased over the last few years (more for males than females) it still accounts for almost one-third of all deaths for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mortality rate for cardiovascular disease-related illnesses for women is 15 percent greater than mortality for all cancers, according to the Colorado Department of Health.

This problem is compounded by the fact that cardiovascular disease presents with different symptoms than men, and can be ignored or misdiagnosed.

What are the risk factors? What is your risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years? Check out the American Heart Association Heart Attack Risk Assessment online as well as Women Heart Prevention and Early Detection websites.

Join us for Strong Women Healthy Hearts a 12-week class to help you with changes that improve your health and decrease the risk factors. Last year, participants experienced weight loss, decreased body mass index, lowered blood pressure and lowered cholesterol levels while having fun at the one-hour meeting twice a week. The diet recommendations and physical activity are geared for prevention of heart disease, but make a significant difference in overall health recommendations.

During the 12-week course, participants have the time to learn how to incorporate current recommendations to prevent cardiovascular disease. Psychologists tell us it takes at least two months for changes to cement behaviors. During the course, we will also invite guest speaker specialists for additional material. The course includes a great deal of information for:

Lifestyle changes to help manage blood pressure through weight control, increased physical activity, alcohol moderation, ways to decrease sodium intake to 2,000 milligrams/day and ideas for eating appropriate fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products;

Physical activity for women who need to lose weight and to sustain weight loss;

Ideas to reduce saturated-fat intake to less than 7 to 10 percent of intake;

Recommended supplements and dosage.

Small daily changes will make long-term quality of life changes.

ricekw@co.laplata.co.us or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.