Category: Heart Health

ABCs of Diabetes

November 14, 2014 Cheryl Smith Awareness and Prevention, Diabetes, Heart Health


During the month of November, several Diabetes association’s partner together to build awareness and provide support for people who live with diabetes.  The national Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and its partners promote “Be Smart About Your Heart:  Control the ABCs of Diabetes” to help people with diabetes learn they are at greater risk for heart disease, and also how they can lower the risk by managing the ABCs:  the A1C test, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Stop Smoking.

ABCs of Managing Your Diabetes

  • A: A1C Test- the A1C test is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar over the past three months
  • B: Blood Pressure- Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels.
  • C: Cholesterol- There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. I can cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • S: Stop Smoking- Simple enough!

As a complication of diabetes, heart disease is the world’s number one killer, killing 17.3 million people per year, we encourage you to improve your heart health and learn CPR.  CPR paired with an automated external defibrillator (AED) can greatly increase someone’s chance of survival if experience cardiac arrest.  Heart disease can hit anyone at anytime!  Be prepared to help a loved one, co-worker, or friend if the time ever arises and they need CPR.

Make a heart choice, an easy choice and use CPR Choice to learn today!  We offer the best CPR classes in East Tennessee.  Proudly serving Knoxville, Maryville, Oakridge, Lenoir City, Sevierville, Johnson City, Morristown, Kingsport and Bristol!  Find a CPR course near you! 

November: Diabetes Awareness Month

November 12, 2014 Cheryl Smith Awareness and Prevention, Diabetes, Heart Health

Diabetes-Awareness-Month-November-6November is Diabetes Awareness Month! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.9 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes every year.  Affecting men and women of all backgrounds and ages, diabetes can cause serious health complications, including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and the loss of lower limbs.  During National Diabetes Month several organizations and groups rally together to bring awareness, education and support for helping our communities adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Most commonly diagnosed in young people, type 1 diabetes has no known method of prevention.  However, it can be managed with regular exercise, good nutrition, and proper medication.   Type 2 diabetes accounts for roughly 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults, and the risk of developing it is commonly associated with older age, obesity, physical inactivity, and a family history of diabetes.

Here are a few simple steps that will make a huge difference in your commitment to managing and/or preventing the disease:


  • Eat Whole Foods– The easiest way to ensure you are eating the right kinds of foods- avoiding processed foods all together. Whole foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and lean meats. When grocery shopping, make it a point to spend a lot of time in the produce section and avoid the middle of the store where packaged foods are found.
  • Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day– We know it can be difficult to make time for yourself to exercise, but you owe it to your family to do this! Create accountability, engage family and friends to help you get active and stay that way!
  • Cook at Home– Even if you like to add a bit of extra butter to home-cooked meals, it will still be far healthier than anything you could order in a restaurant. On average, a meal consumed while dining out will cost you a minimum of an extra 200 calories.
  • Portion Control– Try filling your plate with 2/3 of what you think you need. Then wait 15 minutes before going back for seconds. This is the amount of time your brain and body need to communicate you are full. You will be surprised at how satisfied you feel if you allow your body the time to process food without over-indulging.
  • Avoid Alcohol– The main ingredient found in alcohol whether it is wine, beer, or spirits is sugar.
  • Read Nutrition Labels– If you choose to purchase packaged foods, get into the habit of reading nutrition labels. You may find disturbing information once you start to study the nutritional content and ingredients.
  • Track Numbers Daily– It has been proven that tracking your daily food and water intake is one of the best ways to make progress towards goals. When faced with a cupcake following dinner, it’s easy to forget about the piece of pie you ate after lunch. Many people are surprised to see how much they consumed over the course of the day when they look back at their log. Look for helpful Smartphone Apps to make this an easy and efficient process!Start today with these simple steps! Stay tuned for more helpful information throughout the month!

Start today with these simple steps! Stay tuned for more helpful information from CPR Choice throughout the month!

World Heart Day

September 29, 2014 Travis Smith Awareness and Prevention, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health

Every year the World Heart Federation celebrates with millions around the globe for World Heart Day. The World Heart Federation has a mission to “unite its members and lead the fight against heart disease and stroke.” This year they are trying to raise awareness by focusing on creating heart-healthy environments; enabling people to make heart-healthy choices wherever they live, work and play. World Heart Day 2014 is designed to encourage everyone on the planet to reduce their cardiovascular risk, and promotes a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Some quick easy things you can do to improve your heart health:heart_globe

  1. Exercise
  2. Reduce Sodium intake
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Go for a short walk every 2-3 hours (if you have a desk job)
  5. Eat a well balanced diet
  6. Learn CPR

Many around the globe don’t have the freedom to choose to live heart healthy; some don’t have space to exercise, some don’t even know where they will get their next meal.  However, some things we can control and we are able to make choices about our health. The World Heart Federation is urging people to make a heart choice, not a hard choice and sign their petition to call on national and international leaders to recognize the global burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and to prioritize the need for heart-healthy environments wherever people live work, or play.


Watch their video here: Make the Heart Choice

Because cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one killer, killing 17.3 million people per year, we encourage you to improve your heart health and learn CPR.  CPR paired with an automated external defibrillator (AED) can greatly increase someone’s chance of survival if experience cardiac arrest.  Heart disease can hit anyone at anytime!  Be prepared to help a loved one, co-worker, or friend if the time ever arises and they need CPR.  

Make a heart choice, an easy choice and use CPR Choice to learn today!  We offer the best CPR classes in East Tennessee.  Proudly serving Knoxville, Maryville, Oakridge, Lenoir City, Sevierville, Johnson City, Morristown, Kingsport and Bristol!  Find a CPR course near you! 

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Month!

September 28, 2014 Cheryl Smith AED, Awareness and Prevention, CPR, Heart Health

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the U.S. alone, approximately 424,000 people of all ages experience SCA each year (more than 1,000/day) and 19 out of 20 victims die.


SCA is a sudden or unexpected pulseless condition attributed to the cessation of cardiac mechanical activity.  It is usually caused by ventricular fibrillation, an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system.  When SCA occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain, the heart and the rest of the body and the person collapses.  In fact, the person is clinically dead and will remain so unless someone helps immediately.

A heart attack and SCA are not one in the same.  A heart attack occurs when part of the hearts blood supply is reduced or blocked, causing the heart muscle to become injured or die.  A heart attack victim is awake and may complain about symptoms.  The SCA victim is not awake and will need immediate attention.

SCA can strike anyone, anytime.  Seconds count-timely and appropriate care will substantially improve survival rates.   In the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest:


  • Call 911.  Give specific details; “I have a female, approx. 45 years old, experiencing chest pain
  • Tell someone to get the AED.
  • Begin doing chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute.  Push hard and fast in between the nipples on the lower portion of the sternum.

What you can do to prepare:

  • Learn CPR and AED functionality.  Get your friends and family involved too.  Remember, over 80% of cardiac arrests occur at home, which means a life you save could very well be a loved one!
  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Access– spread the word on why having an AED at your work, school or community center can be the key to survival.  CPR Choice sells AEDs and provides hands on training, as well as guidance on internal procedures for the best utilization.

Having confidence in your ability to perform CPR and to use an AED is the best way to prevent unnecessary deaths. CPR Choice is your source to learn the skills needed to save a life!  It is a very small price to pay versus watching the ones you love pass in front of you. Sign up today!


Do you have a Heart Healthy Workplace?

September 10, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR Training, Disease Prevention, Heart Health

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans?  In fact, someone dies from CVD every 39 seconds.  Heart disease also kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.  Knoxville’s Heart Walk is September 28th and is the American Heart Association’s premiere event for raising funds to save lives.  Designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living, the Heart Walk creates an environment that’s fun and rewarding for the entire family.  Sign up by clicking the banner below.


People spend at least 40% of their waking hours on the job.  Corporate wellness programs are becoming the norm and the obvious benefits to helping workers get healthy and stay healthy is good for the employees, their families and business.  The American Heart Association, AHA, recommends an incremental approach to companies considering starting a wellness program.  Wellness programs should include a concentrated focus on the following:

  • Smoking cessation or preventioncpr classes
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Promoting healthy eating
  • Managing weight
  • Educating workers about cardiovascular disease, including how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibulator (AED).

I challenge you to start or join a wellness program at your work, including educating your coworkers and staff on how to perform CPR in the event of an emergency.  Remember, CPR Choice can offer onsite CPR and AED training for your place of business and we can accommodate almost any schedule.  Reach out today to schedule a group onsite class.

Mark your calendar for Knoxville’s Heart Walk.  Walk with friends, family, coworkers or strangers- your heart will thank you!


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.

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.


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


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