Staying Healthy

Maintaining good health doesn't happen by accident. It requires work, smart lifestyle choices, and the occasional checkup and test.

A healthy diet is rich in fiber, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, "good" or unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. These dietary components turn down inflammation, which can damage tissue, joints, artery walls, and organs. Going easy on processed foods is another element of healthy eating. Sweets, foods made with highly refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause spikes in blood sugar that can lead to early hunger. High blood sugar is linked to the development of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even dementia.

The Mediterranean diet meets all of the criteria for good health, and there is convincing evidence that it is effective at warding off heart attack, stroke, and premature death. The diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish; low in red meats or processed meats; and includes a moderate amount of cheese and wine.

Physical activity is also necessary for good health. It can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls. Physical activity improves sleep, endurance, and even sex. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, such as brisk walking. Strength training, important for balance, bone health, controlling blood sugar, and mobility, is recommended 2-3 times per week.

Finding ways to reduce stress is another strategy that can help you stay healthy, given the connection between stress and a variety of disorders. There are many ways to bust stress. Try, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, playing on weekends, and taking vacations.

Finally, establish a good relationship with a primary care physician. If something happens to your health, a physician you know —and who knows you — is in the best position to help. He or she will also recommend tests to check for hidden cancer or other conditions.

Staying Healthy Articles

Emergencies and First Aid - Birth of the Placenta

The placenta, which has provided the fetus with nourishment, is attached to the umbilical cord and is delivered about 20 minutes after the baby. Do not pull on the cord; delivery of the placenta occurs on its own. You can help by gently massaging the woman’s lower abdomen. The uterus will feel like a hard round mass. Massaging the abdomen helps the uterus contract, which also helps stop bleeding. After the placenta is delivered, place it in a plastic bag to take with the woman and baby to the hospital. It is normal for more bleeding to occur after delivery of the placenta. Continue gently massaging the woman’s lower abdomen. More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Bleeding

While a minor cut will eventually stop bleeding, a severe injury may require elevation and direct pressure on the wound. The goals of first-aid treatment are to control bleeding and prevent infection. If disposable surgical gloves are readily available, use them. Butterfly Bandages How to Stop a Nosebleed More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Direct Pressure to Stop Bleeding

A wound that is deep, bleeding heavily, or has blood spurting from it (caused by bleeding from an artery), may not clot and may not stop bleeding. Immediate careCall out for someone to get help, or call 911 yourself. Elevate the wound and apply direct pressure. If severe bleeding does not stop with direct pressure and elevation, apply direct pressure to an artery. Use direct pressure on an artery along with elevation and direct pressure on the wound. There are specific major arteries in the body where pressure should be placed (see illustration below). More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Emergency Phone Numbers

Write down important telephone numbers and post them where you can refer to them easily, such as near your telephone or on your refrigerator. List the serious medical conditions (such as asthma or diabetes) of each family member on the back of the list. Teach your children how to call 911 and tell them to show the list to emergency medical personnel. The list should include the phone numbers of the police, the nearest fire department, ambulance services, a poison control center, and your doctors and the contact numbers for work, other locations, and a nearby relative or friend. You may also wish to include the phone numbers of the gas and electric companies, your children’s schools, the local pharmacy, or home health aides. More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Heimlich Maneuver on a Child

Stand behind the child. With your arms around his or her waist, form a fist with one hand and place it, thumb side in, between the ribs and waistline. Grab your fist with your other hand. Keeping your arms off the child's rib cage, give four quick inward and upward thrusts. You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.     More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Heimlich Maneuver on an Adult

If the person is sitting or standing, stand behind him or her. Form a fist with one hand and place your fist, thumb side in, just below the person'’s rib cage in the front. Grab your fist with your other hand. Keeping your arms off the person’'s rib cage, give four quick inward and upward thrusts. You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out. If the person is lying down or unconscious, straddle him or her and place the heel of your hand just above the waistline. Place your other hand on top of this hand. Keeping your elbows straight, give four quick upward thrusts. You may have to repeat this procedure several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.     More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Heimlich Maneuver on an Infant

1 Place the infant face down across your forearm (resting your forearm on your leg) and support the infant'’s head with your hand. Give four forceful blows to the back with the heel of your hand. You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out. 2 If this does not work, turn the baby over. With two fingers one finger width below an imaginary line connecting the nipples, give four forceful thrusts to the chest to a depth of 1 inch. You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.     More »

Emergencies and First Aid - How to Stop a Nosebleed

  •Firmly pinch the entire soft part of the nose just above the nostrils. •Sit and lean forward (this will ensure that blood and other secretions do not go down your throat). •Breathe through your mouth. Hold this position for 5 minutes. If bleeding continues, hold the position for an additional 10 minutes. If bleeding does not stop, go to the emergency department.     More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - After a Heart Attack

Have you had chest pain or pressure since you were discharged from the hospital? How severe is it? How long does it last? Does it stay in your chest or radiate to other parts of your body? Did you have this pain before your heart attack? What brings it on? How frequently do you get it? What were you doing just prior to the chest pain? Do you ever get chest pain or pressure at rest? What relieves the chest pain? If you take nitroglycerin, how many doses do you usually need to take before the pain goes away? How often do you take nitroglycerin? Do you get short of breath when you lie down or exert yourself? Do you awaken in the middle of the night short of breath? Do your ankles swell? Do you ever feel lightheaded? Have you fainted? Do you get rapid or pounding heartbeat for no reason? Do you know what each of the medications you are taking does? Do you know the side effects of each medication? Are you having any side effects? Are you taking an aspirin every day? Are you doing everything you can to modify the risk factors that can worsen your coronary artery disease (cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are the most important risk factors)? Are you participating in a supervised exercise program? Are you resuming your normal activities? Are you sexually active? Have you returned to work? Have you been feeling depressed since your heart attack? Have you been able to reduce the stress in your life? Have you been fatigued? Heart rate, blood pressure, and weight Pulses in your wrist, groin, and feet Listen over the major arteries in the neck, groin, and feet (for abnormal noises) Look at the veins in the neck to see if there is extra fluid in your body Heart and lungs Ankles and legs (for swelling) Blood tests for glucose, lipid panel (cholesterol levels) and C-reactive protein (CRP) Electrocardiogram Echocardiogram Exercise stress test   More »