Peripheral artery disease, peripheral artery disease support
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Heart Healthy Holiday Choices

· Nurse Stephanie

It’s all about timing. So, it’s not a coincidence that the American Heart Association (AHA) would release its new cholesterol guidelines a week before the 2018 holiday season kicks off—Thanksgiving! A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease (2014) found that LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in men were 3.5 percent higher and 1.7 percent higher in women over the winter months. You might wonder why. Well, it turns out cholesterol fluctuations are seasonal. It all starts with those holiday goodies, coupled with comfort food and less exercise during those cold winter months. But don’t worry! I have your back! Search the web and you’ll find plenty of online recipes that align with AHA’s cooking tips here.

But we all know there are certain temptations and indulgences in which we just can’t find the willpower to fend off. I mean, who can resist Aunt Patty’s holiday cookies or Uncle Ron’s famous peppermint fudge? It’s okay to have a taste of these wonderful treats. But, remember to moderate those moments of indulgence. Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking a few extra moments to savor the flavor of one piece. But there’s a secret to successful cholesterol management beyond savoring the flavor in moderation.

What is it?

Scheduling an appointment to get your cholesterol levels checked right after the holidays. Knowing you have to be accountable for those levels can help you remain vigilant when temptation strikes!

To control those temptations, it might also help to know what bad cholesterol looks like after you eat it. Cholesterol from the food we eat travels through your bloodstream and can build up along your vessel walls. That cholesterol plaque buildup, which leads to a narrowing of your blood vessels, is called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). In a recent endovascular procedure in Italy, before the doctor inserted Ra Medical’s DABRA Catheter to clear a tough artery blockage, he discovered a big piece of cholesterol stuck in one of the tools he pulled out of the patient’s artery. Yes, that glob on the right in the picture below came from someone’s body, not another planet.

If it hadn’t been removed and DABRA hadn’t continued to clear out the rest of the cholesterol plaque, it could’ve continued to block blood flow to the patient’s leg. Soon enough, the tissue could have started to die, causing gangrene, which eventually could have resulted in amputation. It’s not rare. Nearly 2 million Americans have lost limbs due to vascular diseases such as PAD. Don’t be a statistic! Ease up on fatty foods this holiday season.

Want some of my favorite heart-healthy recipes? Need advice about how to maintain healthy cholesterol levels? Have questions about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for PAD? How about a list of critical questions to ask your doctor about vascular diseases? Send me a direct email:

Let’s be thankful for family, friends, and all the holiday memories we will be making this year!

~Nurse Stephanie

About Nurse Stephanie:

Nurse Stephanie’s career began in the cardiac unit, where she saw firsthand the challenges facing heart disease patients. Determined to help treat different types of conditions around the world, she decided to switch to travel nursing. Many of her patients suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol—putting them at serious risk of heart disease. However, the majority of her patients lacked access to the proper education—and were in dire socioeconomic circumstances—so they were at a disadvantage in understanding the risks of their conditions. Inspired to make an impact on the vascular disease community, including heart disease and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), she joined Ra Medical Systems to help spread awareness of symptoms and the company’s groundbreaking device in treatment. Nurse Stephanie received her associate degree in nursing in Southern California.