Eating Heart Healthy

April 29, 2014 Cheryl Smith Awareness and Prevention, Diet and Nutrition, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health


Eating Heart Healthy

Eating healthy can be a challenge.  Life is busy and unhealthy food can be so tempting and convenient, not to mention addicting.  Most of us consider the effects that eating unhealthy food can have on our waistlines, but we shouldn’t forget about the effects the foods we eat can have on our hearts.

Here are 8 simple steps we can take to making better choices for our hearts and preventing heart disease:

  1. Limit Unhealthy Fats and Cholesterols.  Limiting how much saturated and trans fats we eat is an important step to reducing blood cholesterol and lowering the risk of coronary and artery disease.  High blood cholesterol levels can lead to buildups of plaques in arteries which can increase risk of a heart attack or stroke.  Butter, margarines, and shortenings are examples of foods containing a lot of saturated fats.  When you’re looking at the list of ingredients in something take notice is it says “partially hydrogenated” this is a good indicator of trans fat.  The American Heart Association offers these guidelines:
  • Saturated Fats: Less than 7% of total daily calories should be saturated fats or less than 14 g for a 2000 calories-a-day diet.
  • Trans Fats: Less than 1% of total daily calories or 2g for a 2000 calories-a-day diet.
  • Cholesterol: Less than 300 mg a day for healthy adults and less than 200 mg a day for adults with high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)
  1.  Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. Try planning meals containing a lot of fruits and vegetables, keeps vegetables and fruits chopped in the fridge for easy and convenient snacks or on the counter to remind you to eat them.
  2. Control Portion Size. When portion sizes are too large its easier to consume for fats, calories and cholesterol than you should have.  Most restaurant portions are larger than anyone needs.  Pay attention to the portion sizes suggested for different foods and try to stick to it.  For example a single serving of pasta is about half a cup or a serving of meat is about 2 to 3 ounces.
  3. Select Whole Grains.  Whole grains are a great source of fiber and other nutrients that help regulate blood pressure and promote heart health.
  4. Choose Low-Fat Protein.  Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy and egg white are great proteins that are low in fat.
  5. Reduce Sodium.  Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  The Department of Agriculture recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day which is about 1 teaspoon.
  6. Plan Meals Ahead.  Creating daily menus can help you select foods that are better for your health.  Preparing healthy meals takes more planning than many instant or processed foods.
  7. Allow Yourself an Occasional Treat.  Everyone needs a treat sometimes and as long as you’re making healthy choices most of the time a healthy treat now and then won’t hurt anything.

Here’s a list of some great Heart Healthy Foods:

  • Salmon
  • Flaxseed
  • Oatmeal
  • Black or Kidney Beans
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Red Wine
  • Tuna
  • Tofu
  • Brown Rice
  • Soy Milk
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher in cocoa content)
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes

Any foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are going to be great choices for you and your heart.

Poison: What to do?

April 23, 2014 Cheryl Smith Awareness and Prevention, Children's Health



Did you know that more than 2 million poisonings are reported each year?  According to the Poison Prevention Council more than 90% of reported poisonings occur in the home.  The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children, and poisoning is one of the leading causes of death in adults.  So what do you and the members of your family need to know to be safe?


  • Install safety latches on cabinets for medicines and household products.
  • When possible buy child-resistant products; however remember it is still important to keep a close watch on children since they may eventually figure out how to open these containers.
  • Close child-resistant containers tightly after use.  Many incidents occur when a parent becomes distracted and forgets to completely close the container after use.
  • Be sure to keep this Poison help number near your phone 1-800-222-1222.
  • Read product and medicine labels before use.
  • Teach children to always ask before eating or drinking something.

When Poisoning Occurs:

By a significant margin most poisoning occurs by ingestion.  The majority of deaths in children are accidental while most poisoning deaths that occur in adults are intentional.  The misuse of pain medications, personal care products, and household cleaning products can lead to poisoning.  The effects can be wide ranging and often resemble those of other common illnesses.  Side effects may include: abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and even an altered mental status. 

In a situation where you believe someone has ingested something poisonous act quickly.  Sometimes ingestion is described by the person or there are other clues such as open and empty containers, usual smells, odd stains on clothing, skin or lips.  Activate EMS if the person shows any signs or serious symptoms and call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222. 

Do not induce vomiting, or give water or milk or anything else unless advised by the Poison Control Center or EMS.  The use or overuse of alcohol, drugs or medications can result in serious life-threatening complications, diminished mental status, depressed breathing or loss in an airway, or vomiting may occur.

If a person happens to stop breathing after a poisoning occurs, call 911 and start CPR immediately.  For more information on how to learn CPR or to sign up for CPR/First Aid classes please visit our calendar!

What are Blood Borne Pathogens?

April 16, 2014 Cheryl Smith Awareness and Prevention, Disease Prevention, First Aid

biohazardHepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are some of the more serious infectious diseases that can be transmitted through exposure to human blood or other body fluids. Exposures to blood and other body fluids occur across a wide variety of occupations including but not limited to: first aid team members, housekeeping, nurses and other health care providers, childcare workers, security guards, school personnel, tattoo artists, and many more.  Anyone who can be exposed through needlestick, other sharps injuries, mucous membrane and skin exposures should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in being exposed to bloodborne pathogens, precautions to take, and what to do if exposed.  Workers and employers are urged to take available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI) provide a course designed to meet OSHA’s standard for bloodborne pathogen training.  The course is designed to teach precautions such as hand hygiene, barrier precautions, safe work practices and isolation practices and thoroughly explains the PACT acronym:

  • Protect themselves from exposure to bloodborne pathogens
  • Act when exposed to blood or blood containing material in the workplace
  • Clean themselves and area when exposed to blood or blood containing material
  • Tell or report any exposure to blood or blood containing materials in the workplace

safetycheck For more information on this course visit our website at and click on Heartsaver Bloodborne Pathogens.   To register for CPR classes in Knoxville or Maryville please check out our calendar.

Live in an apartment? Do they have an AED?

April 16, 2014 Cheryl Smith AED, Awareness and Prevention, CPR Training, Preparation and Disaster Planning

In recent years, an increasing number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have been provided in office complexes, shopping malls, gyms and even on commercial airliners. Why, then, are there so few of them in apartment complexes?

The reluctance to install them usually comes down to concerns about potential liability.  However, such concerns are unwarranted. Modern defibrillators — small electronic devices that administer an electric shock to restore heart rhythm are basically foolproof.  With the new models now on the market, the operator has only to attach two pads to the victim’s chest and turn on the machine; follow the simple instructions.

The machine will analyze the heart rhythm and tell you whether or not to administer a shock.  As far as we know, these machines have never shocked someone who didn’t need it and never failed to shock someone who did.

While having defibrillators in commercial buildings is certainly helpful, having them in residential buildings is much more important.  Eighty-eight percent of cardiac arrests happen at home and in 93 cases out of 100, the victim does not survive.


With cardiac arrest, every second counts. If defibrillation occurs in the first one or two minutes, 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims in VF survive.  If defibrillation is delayed for more than ten minutes the survival rate drops to 5% for sudden cardiac arrest victims in VF.

Apartment complex employees and others who would use the machine can receive training from the American Heart Association; it takes a few hours. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, aid for choking victims and hands-on practice with the defibrillator are included.

Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law protects from liability anyone who “voluntarily and without expectation of monetary compensation” uses a defibrillator in an attempt to revive someone in an emergency. “In my opinion, it would be negligent not to have one.”

Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

April 11, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR, Disease Prevention, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health

Stroke is a medical condition effecting the blood vessels or arteries within, or leading into the brain. Stroke happens when one or more of these vessels become blocked, leak, or bursts.  This subsequently leads to tissue damage or death in the affected area of the brain due to lack of oxygen and vital nutrients gained from normal blood supply.  There are two types of stoke: One caused by a blockage due to a clot (Ischemic stroke), the other caused by a leak or rupture within the vessel wall (hemorrhagic stroke).  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind Heart Disease and Cancer. If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from symptoms of a stroke it is imperative to call 911 as soon as possible, time is a vital factor in preventing or limiting brain damage, paralysis, or death.


Symptoms commonly found in those suffering from a stroke include

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, usually effecting one side of the body.
  • Slurred speech, loss of balance, poor coordination
  • Confusion, loss of comprehension and understanding, personality change
  • Rapid or irregular breathing, unequal pupil dilation, pounding pulse
  • Sudden onset of severe headache and sensitivity to sound or light or loss of vision

Though anyone can suffer from a stroke, it is more common in those above the age of 65.  Additional risk factors include: cardiac disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.  Some patients may suffer from stroke symptoms for a short period of time.  These temporary symptoms may be an indicator of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a “mini-stroke.” TIA’s are often a warning sign for an impending larger stroke so these symptoms should not be ignored and the person suffering should seek medical attention.

There are a few important standard precautions to take while you and the stoke victim are waiting for EMS to arrive.

  • Monitor the victims’ airway, breathing and circulation. If possible, note the time of stroke and be sure to relay this information to the EMTs
  • If tolerated, try to lay the victim down so his or her head is flat on the ground in order to maximize blood flow to the brain
  • Never give the victim anything to eat or drink. His or her airway may become compromised due to paralysis. This may also lead to complications during surgery if needed.

These will undoubtedly be frightening moments for the stroke patient as loss of normal mental and motor function onset. It is important to provide emotional support in a calm collective manor. Continue to communicate even if his or her ability to respond is limited and never comment on possible long term effects of the episode.  Remember, stroke is a time sensitive medical condition so it’s important to seek medical attention at the first signs or symptoms. In some cases the victim may lose consciousness and pulse, if this should happen it is important to activate the emergency response system and begin quality CPR. Focus on pushing hard and fast on the center of the victims’ chest.

Learn CPR today.  For a schedule of classes please visit out calendar to register.  We offer Basic Life Support (BLS) for healthcare providers as well as community Heartsaver CPR & AED classes designed for anyone.


Why Should I take a CPR class?

April 9, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR, CPR Training, First Aid

CPR class

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, better known as CPR can be a very valuable and useful skill that could prevent death. However, many people simply don’t know how to do it (other than what they have seen on TV) and they don’t plan on learning it.  If more Americans learned CPR it could save thousands of lives every year.  Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in American, killing over 400,000 each year.  If someone begins CPR immediately when someone starts to go into arrest their chance of survival increases greatly.  It is a vital skill and more people should be taking CPR classes.  So often we think that only healthcare providers should be trained but why not everyone?  Every day we come into contact with someone that is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke and may need CPR.  CPR is easy to learn and can be administered by most people.  

When someone goes into cardiac arrest it prevents blood and oxygen from entering the brain and heart.  Time is precious and knowing CPR will allow the victim extra time until the emergency medical response team (911) arrives.  If you can begin CPR when someone becomes unconscious you add valuable minutes to their life and may be able to keep them alive until more advanced personnel arrive.

CPR can help several types of medical emergency including: stroke, drowning, suffocation, electrocution, shock, choking and more.  If a person has an obstructed airway, you can learn the steps needed in order to save his/her life.  CPR classes can teach you how to perform abdominal thrusts to the victim and this simple act can keep someone alive.  You will also learn how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) in your CPR class.  AEDs are found in many public areas such as malls, airports and other large venues.  AEDs can be used to shock the heart if a person is experiencing cardiac arrest.

While it may not seem like you will ever need to know these skills, it is much better to be safe than sorry. Knowing these skills can be the difference between life or death in many cases.   Many people that have taken CPR classes are still hesitant to perform CPR when needed because they are worried they may do something wrong or even hurt the victim.  Please remember that if is better to do something!  Doing nothing will most likely result in death.  Any CPR is better than no CPR! As a bystander acting in good faith you also may not be held liable while doing CPR.  Look into your state’s Good Samaritan law.

CPR courses are so important and it is crucial that every American learn these skills.  Sign up for a class today!  CPR Choice offers classes that are fun and engaging and allow each student lots of hands-on experience.  Do not hesitate to learn CPR, you could make a difference, you could save a life!

Signs & Symptoms of a Heart Attack

April 8, 2014 Cheryl Smith AED, Awareness and Prevention, CPR, Disease Prevention, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health

heart attack warning

Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack 

If you think you may be having a heart attack, Stop, call 911 and chew an aspirin.  Now is not the time to be doing research and a delay can be very dangerous.  It’s important to pay special attention to any signs and symptoms of a heart attack especially if you have any of these risk factors: over 50 years in age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoker, history of heart disease.

Heart attacks occur when blood supply to the heart is blocked, therefore damaging the muscle.  It’s important to chew an aspirin if you feel like you may be experiencing a heart attack because the aspirin will thin the blood.

  • Chest Pain: Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack, although it can vary quite a bit.  Some people may feel as if an elephant is sitting on their chest, while others may feel a squeezing sensation in their chest.  Others may describe it as chest fullness or an uncomfortable sensation.  If you experience chest pain lasting longer than 5 minutes, don’t delay, call 911 and go to the emergency room.
  • Shortness of breath:  May feel as if you are unable to catch your breath even when resting.  Shortness of breath often occurs before chest pain.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness: Feeling as if you might pass out.
  • Cold Sweat: Sweating while feeling cold or chilled.

Symptoms more likely in Women

Women have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack because they are less likely to experience all of the symptoms we hear about often or see in the movies.  Here are some symptoms that women should be especially aware of:

  • Pain in the arm (especially the left arm), back, neck, abdomen or shoulder blades: uncomfortable pressure, tightness or ache.
  • Jaw Pain and throat: Starts in the chest and moves to the jaw, feels like someone is choking you.
  • Nausea, Vomiting or Indigestion
  • Overwhelming and unusual fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Pale Skin

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack could save a life.  Always remember to not delay if you or someone you know feels they may be experiencing a heart attack, call 911 and chew an aspirin.  If the person becomes unconscious immediately begin CPR starting with chest compressions after calling 911.  If you are in a public place you should also request an AED (automated external defibrillator) when activating EMS.  Focus on pushing hard and fast in the center of the victims chest.  For more information on how to do CPR please check out our website or sign up for a class.  All CPR classes that are open to the public in the Knoxville area are listed on our calendar.

heart attack symptoms
heart attack symptoms


Hands Only CPR

March 31, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR, Hands-Only CPR

stayin alive

Many people feel uncomfortable putting their mouth on a stranger’s mouth.  I can relate to this.  The first time that I ever gave CPR it was to a hitchhiker on the side of the road that I witnessed having a heat stroke.   I did not know him and would not have wanted to put my mouth on his.  Luckily for him, I have an entire trunk full of CPR arsenal but most people don’t.

Hands only CPR was developed so that bystanders could feel comfortable doing something and doing it quickly.   Most people that experience cardiac arrest out of a hospital setting die because they do not receive immediate CPR from someone at the scene.  Hands only CPR is easy and anyone can do it!

Here are the steps:

  • Call 911
  • Push hard and fast at the center of the chest

(Compress the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive” 100 beats per min)

Hands-Only CPR is recommended for teenagers and adults.  Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death in America and immediate CPR can double your chance of survival.

So why does it work?
We already have a fair amount of oxygen in our blood and in our lungs.  When someone isn’t moving they aren’t using much of that oxygen.  This allows a few minutes for our bodies to use up all the stored oxygen until help arrives.  Also, a small amount of oxygen is passively pulled in and pushed out with every compression given by a rescuer.

The Hands-only approach is not recommended for infants and children as they rarely experience cardiac arrest.  If someone has stopped breathing due to drowning, choking or severe asthma they would still need mouth-to-mouth ventilations as well as chest compressions.



Do Adequate Compressions Break Ribs??

March 30, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR, CPR Training, Liability


Many studies show that majority of people do not push on the sternum with enough force in order to properly administer CPR compressions. These findings include trained and untrained personnel. The American Heart Association recommends that you push down at least 2 inches for an adult, which requires approximately 125 pounds of pressure.

Pushing with more than 125 pounds increases the potential for rib fractures. Nevertheless, the chances of survival increase tremendously. The idea of ribs breaking sometimes makes rescuers hesitant to push hard. The rescuer needs to focus on pushing hard and fast in order to increase chances of resuscitation, even if it is more likely that ribs will break.

Fracturing ribs is quite normal during CPR, especially on older victims or people with osteoporosis. To avoid ribs cracking use only the heel of your hand to push down on the sternum; directly in between the nipples. Some of the cracking noises could be ribs fracturing but a lot of the noise can also be cartilage.

So, what should you do if you hear ribs cracking? Check your position and keep going. Never Stop! You can heal from a broken rib but if you stop compressions the victim has almost no chance to survive.

At CPR Choice our manikins provide “light-up” feedback to show class participants if they are pushing down with enough pounds of pressure to adequately compress the heart. Sign up for a CPR class today!

broke ribs

Springer. “CPR: More Rib Fractures, But Better Survival Rates.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2007.

Why Should You Choose CPR Choice?

CPR Choice, Knoxville Real Testimonials

"Best CPR Class I've ever attended."

"This is the BEST CPR class I have ever been to. As an RN, I’ve been to lots over the years. HIGHLY recommend this one!"

"I highly recommend CPR Choice for healthcare provider certification! It was easy to schedule and Cheryl kept the class interesting and informative. This was by far my best experience taking a CPR class. Thanks Cheryl!"

"I have been taking an annual CPR class for about eight years now, and never before now have I felt like I had such a complete grasp on the material."

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