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Foods That Cleanse the Arteries

Foods That Cleanse the Arteries

What you eat matters, especially when it comes to your body’s potential for a heart attack. Red meat is notoriously linked to clogged arteries or atherosclerosis. Unhealthy fats like saturated fat and trans fat as well as sugar are also linked to an increase for a heart attack. 

But what about foods that lower your risk of a heart attack? Do they exist? We’ve got great news. Yes! You can cleanse your arteries and improve your heart health by changing your diet to include heart-healthy superfoods. 

You Can’t Go Wrong with Mediterranean

There’s a reason why the Mediterranean diet is popular with all health experts and has outlived the plethora of fad diets that have emerged over the years. The Mediterranean diet is actually good for everyone, even those on special diets because the recommended foods are practically the healthiest Earth has to offer. The diet is centered around plant-based foods including fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Seafood, dairy, poultry, and eggs are added in moderation. Unhealthy fats and sugar are avoided although red meat is allowed on a limited occasion. 

Eat the Rainbow

Skittles tells us to taste the rainbow, but we encourage you to eat the whole rainbow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. A heart-healthy plate consists largely of fruits and veggies in a rainbow of colors with limitations to starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

Go Nuts

Nuts are the perfect healthy snack to get you through the afternoon slowdown. They’ll give you a boost of energy, and they’re good for your heart, too. Just don’t go too crazy. An ounce of nuts a day is all you need. 

Fishing for Clean Arteries

Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and herring are perfect when you want a taste of meat on your plate. You can enjoy two servings of fish a week. 

Beans and Legumes

Beans, lentils, and peas are an essential part of a heart-healthy diet. They contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals, which is why they are a great alternative to meat for vegans and vegetarians. 

Don’t Forget the Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the go-to cooking oil and salad dressing for those following a heart-healthy diet. Toss out the ranch dressing and vegetable oil and pick up this versatile food instead. 

Whole Grains

Grains should be consumed in their whole, unprocessed form, according to health and nutrition experts. Whole grains have more fiber than processed grains, and they can also help balance blood glucose levels. 

A heart-healthy diet works best in conjunction with a heart-healthy lifestyle which includes daily exercise or activity and refraining from unhealthy habits like smoking. As always, consult with your provider before beginning a new diet. 

Annual wellness visits also lower your risk of a heart attack by giving your provider a chance to perform key tests that detect silent signs of a heart problem. To request your annual exam, click here. 

Can the Flu Increase Your Chances of Heart Attack or Stroke?

Does the flu impact your risk of a heart attack or stroke? That’s the question researchers sought to answer in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Heart attacks and strokes increase during the winter months, which also coincides with flu season. Researchers suspected a link between the viral illness and the two deadly conditions. The results of their study confirmed their suspicions.

The flu increases the risk of both a heart attack and a stroke, though the timeline in which the conditions typically occur differ. Heart attacks are more likely to occur within the first 7-14 days of onset of acute flu illness while a stroke can still occur up to 30 days following the illness. The study did not share if participants had the flu vaccine. However, other research in the study found that incidences of heart attacks and strokes following the flu were lower in years in which the vaccine’s success rate was higher. 

What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

The study did not reveal exactly what causes the increased risk for stroke or heart attack. It’s safe to assume that if you are already at a higher risk for either condition, you need to take caution. The first step you can take is to get this year’s flu vaccine if you haven’t already. Although the flu vaccine doesn’t always prevent the virus it can shorten illness time and decrease the severity of sickness. 

If you do develop flu-like illness, seek a proper diagnosis and treatment from your provider as soon as possible. If you get sick when your provider is unavailable, visit an urgent care to get immediate treatment then schedule a follow-up with your regular provider as soon as possible. Keep all of your appointments with your provider during your illness and take note of any new symptoms, particularly those that occur before a heart attack or stroke. If you begin to notice these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait to get help. 

You can also prevent the flu and a subsequent heart attack or stroke by continuing to follow the social distancing guidelines in place for coronavirus. The possibility of developing both the flu and coronavirus at the same time is real and only increases your risk of serious illness or even death. We encourage those at a higher risk to continue to stay home until after the flu season. 

Many signs pointing to an increased risk for heart attack or stroke are silent and can only be detected by a provider. Your annual wellness visit is the best time for your Mantachie Rural Health Care provider to determine your risks and develop an action plan. Click here to request your annual exam today. 

340B Care Makes Medication More Affordable

340B Care Makes Medication More Affordable

We hear a lot from our patients and on the news about how expensive medication is. Some of our patients must make a choice each month of whether to purchase groceries or medication. It’s a no-win situation that leaves us and you feeling frustrated. We offer all our patients the 340B card as a way to help manage the costs of medications. 

The 340B card has been around for almost thirty years. Congress enacted the card in 1992 as part of the Public Health Service Act to assist covered entities by “stretching scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”

When you can afford your medications, we know you’re more likely to be compliant with your health management plan. That means, you’re less likely to need emergency care or hospital admissions. 

Other prescription assistance options

The 340B card makes a big difference for a lot of our patients, but what and how much it covers varies based on whether you have insurance and what it covers. Other patients rely on pharmaceutical company’s direct patient assistance programs to help pay out of pocket costs for medications.

Not every drug company offers a patient assistance program, and how much those programs cover varies. Some programs help patients cover large co-pays while others may cover the entire cost of the drug for uninsured patients.

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re struggling to pay for expensive medications, you are not alone. Medications for chronic illnesses can be expensive. Don’t let the expense keep you from taking care of your health. The longer you put off diagnosis and treatment of problems, the harder it will be to get your health under control. And the more long term damage your body will suffer. 

We can help you find ways to afford the medications you need. Whether it’s through the 340B program our clinic offers or assisting you with finding a patient assistance program to help cover the costs. If you are one of our patients, be honest with your provider about the hardship of paying for your medication. If you aren’t one of our patients, it’s easy to fix that. Call us at 662-282-4226 for your first appointment. 

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

As of January, Illinois joins the growing number of states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Eleven states allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase weed for recreational use, and thirty-three allow it for medical use. While Mississippi doesn’t fall into either of those categories, many residents use the substance illegally and others will experiment when visiting states where it is legal. We urge caution for all our patients, but particularly those with heart problems.

Studies have shown marijuana use increases heart rate, dilates blood vessels, and forces the heart to pump harder. This effect increases the risk of heart attack in the hour after smoking pot. 

A more recent study in England found an enlargement of the heart in regular marijuana users. Former users who stopped consumption of pot had normal-sized hearts leading researchers to believe the effect is reversible.

Because marijuana is still illegal in many states and countries, few studies about the long term effects exist. More studies are needed to understand the effects of both medical and recreational use of weed on the body.

Heart Health

Just because you don’t use marijuana doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for heart disease though. Almost everyone has some risk factors for heart disease. Some we can’t control such as:

  • Male sex
  • Older age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Race (African-Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians.)

Other risk factors we can control:

  • Smoking
  • High LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity (having a BMI greater than 25)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High C-reactive protein
  • Uncontrolled stress, depression, and anger
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol use

We have a doctor, nurse practitioners, and a dietician on staff to assist you as you work to decrease your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. 

Miley Cyrus, Larry Bird, and Joe Biden Share This Common Medical Condition

Miley Cyrus, Larry Bird, and Joe Biden Share This Common Medical Condition: Afib; atrial fibrillation
Larry Bird Photo Credit Nick Antonini; Joe Biden Photo Credit Marc Nozell

What does Miley Cyrus have in common with a late former president, a former vice president and a member of the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team”? Not much as it turns out. But the former Disney star does have an irregular heart rhythm, a condition she shares with the late President George H.W. Bush, former Vice President Joe Biden and Larry Bird, a former NBA standout and member of the lauded 1992 U.S. Olympic Basketball team, better known as the Dream Team. 

Although Cyrus was unclear on the cause of her irregular heartbeat when she discussed the condition in her 2009 memoir Miles To Go, most speculate it’s due to atrial fibrillation, or AFib, the same condition that causes heart rhythm problems for Bush, Biden, and Bird. 

What is AFib and Who’s at Risk?

AFib is one of the most common heart conditions in the world most often characterized by an irregular heart rhythm and it affects an estimated 2.7 – 6.1 million people in the United States each year. The estimated range of people affected is wide. Many people living with AFib are unaware they have the condition because they experience little to no signs or symptoms.

 AFib is often mistaken as a mild condition due to its commonality and seemingly manageable symptoms. However, untreated AFib can lead to heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and other heat-related illnesses.

The CDC reports about 9% of people over age 65 to have AFib while just 2% of people under 65 have the condition. Although anyone is at risk for AFib, Caucasian women over 65 are more likely to have AFib than any other group. 

Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat. However, it is often accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • General fatigue
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Dizziness, anxiety, and shortness of breath
  • Faintness or confusion
  • Sweating

How to Treat It and Reduce Your Risk

Atrial fibrillation is a medical condition in itself, but it’s also often a sign of an underlying problem or illness. AFib could be the result of something as simple as consuming too much caffeine or as serious as a condition like high blood pressure or another more serious heart problem. Successful treatment of AFib begins with a proper diagnosis. To get this diagnosis, patients may undergo in-depth exams and a series of tests such as an echocardiogram.

In many cases, AFib can be treated with certain lifestyle changes such as saying no to a second cup of coffee in the mornings if your AFib is related to too much caffeine consumption. In other cases, treating the underlying condition stops AFib symptoms. 

The best way to reduce your risk of AFib is to visit your medical provider regularly for checkups and to contact them at the first symptoms of AFib. All cases of AFib have the potential to become serious which is why an early diagnosis is essential.

Are you concerned about your risk of developing AFib? Mantachie Rural Health Care can help ease your concerns and begin the diagnosis process. Contact us today to request an appointment. 

Luke Perry’s Stroke and An Increased Risk for Middle-Aged Adults

luke perry stroke

In early March middle-aged women across the U.S. mourned the loss of their teenaged heartthrob Luke Perry, who played Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210 which aired from 1990-2000. Perry, 50, suffered a stroke a week prior to his death.

Think 50 is too young for a stroke? Think again.

Strokes in individuals 25-44 and 45 to 64 years old increased between 2000 and 2010 according to a report from the Journal of the American Heart Association. While the majority of strokes still happen in senior adults over the age of 65, those numbers decreased while the number of younger stroke patients rose.

Why are strokes increasing in younger patients?

Strokes fall into two categories: the most common Ischemic strokes and the more lethal Hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic strokes happen when a clot blocks brain blood flow. Hemorrhagic come about when an artery in the brain leaks or bursts.

Risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and consumption of processed foods take much of the blame for the increase in strokes in middle-aged adults.

Other reports give credit for the rise in hospitalizations for strokes to a generation more educated about the signs of a stroke. When middle-aged adults recognize a stroke is happening they are more likely to get to a hospital earlier which increases the chances for a positive outcome.

What are the signs of a stroke?

Since knowing the signs of a stroke are linked to faster response and improved results, let’s talk about what you may notice. The National Stroke Association makes it easy to remember: FAST

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to hold out their arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

Time: Act quickly. Call 9-1-1 if the person shows any of these symptoms.

Symptoms associated with strokes include numbness on one side of the body, confusion or trouble speaking, vision trouble, balance or lack of coordination and sudden, severe headache.

How do I reduce my risk of stroke?

Twenty-five percent of people over the age of 25 will experience a stroke within their lifetime. Lifestyle changes are the number one way to decrease your risk of stroke. These changes do not include fad diets, but rather healthy eating habits you can sustain over your lifetime. In addition to eating more whole grains, lean meats and vegetables of many colors, adding consistent exercise to your routine helps combat the risks of stroke.

Keep regular wellness check-ups with your doctor where your blood pressure is monitored and your cholesterol is checked. And know your numbers: blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol and blood sugar.

We learned a lot from Luke Perry and the 90210 cast twenty years ago. Don’t miss this most recent lesson. You’re not too young for a stroke. If you’ve not scheduled your wellness exam for 2019 do it now. It might just save your life.

Opioid’s Effect on Heart Health

three wooden hearts, opioids and heart health

We’ve written a lot of warning about the risk of overdose due to opioid use. In 2017 72,000 people died from a drug overdose and 30,000 of those cases were due to opioid use. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system reducing the perception of pain. Opioids can depress other systems of the body like the lungs where breathing may become so inhibited and slow it eventually stops leading to an overdose death. What we haven’t heard a lot about is opioid’s effect on the heart.

If there’s good news in the opioid crisis it’s that most opioids have little initial effect on the heart muscle’s operation. Why then are patients who use opioids at an increased risk to die from heart disease?

A study in 2016 showed opioid patients experience a 65% increased chance of death due to new heart complications. Other studies link an increase in heart disease among opioid users who also use other drugs, especially benzodiazepines, such Valium, either legally or illegally.

Other heart diseases related to use of opioids include:

  • Bradycardia
  • Vasodilation
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Infectious endocarditis

What all these long, complicated words have in common is they can lead to problems from lightheadedness to sudden death.

Withdrawals and Heart Conditions

Quitting opioids after prolonged use includes heart-related risks of its own. Withdrawal includes a faster than normal heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Other withdrawal side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea may lead to dehydration, low blood pressure and sudden passing out. For all these reasons and many more, we strongly suggest opioid users seek out professional help when detoxing from opioid use. Not only can a medical staff support you as you continue in your rehab, but they can provide physical help to ensure you move safely away from opioid use.

We’re working to remove the stigma of seeking help for an opioid addiction because we know professional care during opioid detox and recovery is the safest way for a user to get and stay clean. Opioids affect every aspect of your body. Save your heart (and other body systems) by contacting our behavioral health clinic for information on opioid recovery.

Diabetes and Heart Disease: A Deadly Duo

three women talking, diabetes and heart disease

Type 2 diabetes rarely arrives by itself. Instead, it travels with a host of additional medical conditions ranging from dry, itchy skin to an increased chance of heart disease. In fact, patients with Type 2 diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than people without Type 2 diabetes. In addition to monitoring A1C levels, your provider should monitor your risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Heart disease increases in people with Type 2 diabetes because high glucose levels can damage arteries causing them to become stiff and hard. When fatty materials build up on the inside of these arteries it can block the flow of blood to the heart or brain causing a heart attack or stroke.

Not the news you wanted to hear, we know. We’re not excited about it either. However, people with Type 2 diabetes can take a few steps to decrease both their blood glucose levels and their risk of heart disease all at the same time.

Get Moving

Whether you’re trying to improve your blood glucose levels, blood pressure, weight or energy levels, one recommendation remains a constant. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week. Break that down into ten-minute increments three times a day if needed, but get moving. Your future self will thank you.

Lose Weight if You’re Carrying Extra Pounds

Not only does obesity decrease your body’s ability to manage insulin and increase your chances of diabetes, it puts extra pressure on your heart and lungs to do their jobs properly. And truth be told, it probably makes you feel bad which can prevent you from getting the exercise you need. It’s a vicious cycle that’s not easy to break. Work with a nutritionist, your medical provider, and an exercise coach if necessary to create a routine that helps you lose the weight and keep it off.

Stop Smoking

You know you need to. Cigarettes not only increase your chances for lung cancer but they decrease blood flow to your legs and feet which prevents healing. Smoking also increases your already high chances of heart disease. If you’ve tried quitting smoking unsuccessfully in the past, it might be time to ask your medical provider for help.

Talk to Your Provider about Aspirin Therapy

Aspirin therapy isn’t for everyone but for some patients a low-dose of aspirin every day reduces the risk of heart disease. The therapy comes with its own risks so talk to your provider about whether or not it might be option for you.

Improve Your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

Your diet, exercise, and weight affect more than just your blood glucose, but sometimes you need some extra help to bring your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Ask your provider about monitoring these levels and whether medication would help you better control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Eat Well

We all love eating good foods. Good foods can be healthy. With help from a nutritionist or website like diabetes.org, you can find great tasting recipes that meet the nutritional guidelines your body needs.

Diabetes may affect all aspects of your life, but it doesn’t have to cut your life short. Find renewed energy and health by focusing on just one of these strategies this month. If you do not have a provider to help you manage your diabetes and heart health, contact us. We’re happy to see you!

What are congenital heart defects?

congenital heart defects

We celebrate February as heart month from paper hearts on Valentine’s Day to discussions on heart disease. In the midst of all those heart-to-hearts, we find congenital heart defects. Before we talk details, let’s break down the term. Congenital means at birth. Heart defects (or you may also hear ‘heart disease’) is an abnormality of how the heart forms. Congenital heart defects (CHD) occur when the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not form as they should before birth.

CHD is the most common birth defect with 1 in every 1,000 live births experiencing a heart defect.

How serious are congenital heart defects?

If your infant’s been diagnosed with a CHD, what you really want to know is how serious is it. CHD covers a span of eighteen different defects, with each defect having varying degrees of severity. A CHD could be as mild as a small ventricular septum defect that closes on its own and never affects your child’s growth or development to a more serious heart defect such as the rare single ventricle defect which can be fatal. Internet research offers plenty of detailed information, but your best information comes from conversations with your child’s cardiologist.

Good news for all parents and children with CHD is that most heart defects can be treated and/or repaired. Prognosis for children with CHD is better than it has ever been.

How is a CHD diagnosed?

Most heart defects are diagnosed with a few days of birth, although some defects may not be found until childhood or even adulthood. Keeping your child’s wellness checkups is one-way providers find and diagnose heart defects in older children.

How do I prevent CHD?

We don’t know the cause of every heart defect which means a mother cannot prevent every CHD. The Mayo Clinic suggests mothers ensure they are vaccinated against rubella before becoming pregnant, manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, discuss the effect of medications for chronic medical conditions on pregnancy with your physician, avoid harmful substances and take a multivitamin with folic acid.

What’s considered a CHD?

The list of CHD’s encompass 18 different defects. Click here for the most comprehensive list of heart defects along with information about each one from heart.org. It’s the most detailed list we’ve found.


Don’t ignore these four subtle heart attack symptoms

heart attack

More than 1 million Americans suffer heart attacks each year. While we all know the famous symptoms, like chest pain, numbness in the arms and shortness of breath, there are other more subtle symptoms to consider.

Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarctions, occur when the flow of blood is blocked in the coronary arteries by a buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol. Over time, these substances form a hard plaque. The interrupted blood flow eventually damages part of the heart muscle. In some cases, this interruption destroys part of the heart muscle. We often associate heart attacks with a dramatic scene, but this is seldom the instance. While some heart attacks can be fatal, others usually aren’t found until weeks or months after they occur.

These types of heart attacks are aptly named the “silent heart attack.” They occur more frequently in women than men, and often occur with no symptoms. In fact, if symptoms do occur, they are minimal or even unrecognizable. Signs could be as simple as a seemingly strained muscle.

We’ve compiled the four symptoms you should watch for when considering a silent heart attack.

Discomfort in the jaw, upper back or arms

While this symptom could be due to an overly vigorous workout or too much play time with the kids, discomfort in the jaw, upper back and arms could be a sign of a silent heart attack.  A problem with the heart could signal the nerves in this area (jaw, back and arms), which causes pain or discomfort. You might think you have just strained a muscle, but don’t ignore the pain without considering all of the possibilities first.

Unusual fatigue

We understand how busy lifestyles, especially those of moms on-the-go, often lead to fatigue. But if you are experiencing new or dramatic fatigue, you should consider other causes. Feeling especially tired, even after routine activities like making the bed or walking up stairs, could be a sign of a silent heart attack. Also, trouble sleeping through the night, even though you are unusually fatigued, could be another symptom.

Shortness of breath

Alone, shortness of breath could be attributed to slight weight gain or a lack of exercise. But in certain instances, they could signal a heart problem. If you are experiencing shortness of breath without exertion, when lying down or propping up or accompanied by chest pain or fatigue, you should contact your physician.


While not life-threatening on its own, indigestion could be a sign of heart issues. Like the triggers that signal pain in the jaw, neck, and back, indigestion could be a similar signal that something isn’t quite right with your heart. Pay attention to the foods you are eating. If you have heartburn without just cause or combined with the symptoms above, it might be time to contact your physician.

Ready to discuss these symptoms with a professional? We’re here to help! Make an appointment with us by calling 662-282-4226 today.






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