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May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

Warmer temperatures are upon us and it is Global Employee Health and Fitness month. We at the Connecticut Public Health Association want to inspire you and those you work with to exercise and live a healthy life. Read more below to find out the best ways to get healthy this spring and shake off the winter blues with fellow co-workers.

Start Exercising:
The American Heart Association suggests that to prevent heart disease and stroke people should do approximately 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week(1). The AHA also states that you can receive the same benefits if the time is divided. For example, 15 minutes twice a day for five days of moderate exercise can still provide the same life saving benefits. Two 15 minute segments of moderate exercise per day seems reasonable and a great way to get started is to involve your co-workers. Instead of sitting at the water cooler or cafeteria, you and your colleagues can go for a walk or do other activities during break time.
In addition, exercising after work with coworkers is a great way to bring people together and strengthen the team attitude in the office, not to mention make everyone healthier. Check out the AHA website at the bottom of this page  for more information on recommended exercises.

Create Healthy Potlucks:
Lunches can be a great place to improve the office nutrition. Create a day with your employees to have a healthy potluck where everyone brings in their own healthy recipe and shares. Instead of eating out or at their desks, employees are now saving money and eating healthier. Healthier food can also boost energy levels and reduce the after lunch slump that heavy, fried foods can cause. Read about increasing healthy foods and decreasing unhealthy foods in the links below from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Create Goals/Challenges:
Marathons, charity bike rides, and adventure races, these all have one thing in common, and it is that they challenge the participants to do the best they can by either training themselves or through helping others. These three options are a great way to get co-workers together and excited about exercising. Putting together a team to raise money for a charity walk or ride can be rewarding for everyone involved and help strengthen team spirit.


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Drug Take Back

Posted By Brittany Allen, Friday, April 29, 2016

Tomorrow, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Locate a collection site near you on the DEA's website or by calling 1-800-882-9539.  (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 30 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website

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National Kidney Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Monday, March 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2016

National Kidney Month


The kidney’s are basically two filtration units for your blood and like any filter if the wrong materials are run through it, the filter breaks down. That is why during the month of March (National Kidney Month) we are going to focus on internal and external ways that you can keep your kidneys healthy.

            Internally, it is important to keep the blood (the fluid filtered by the kidney) healthy. A few ways to keep healthy kidneys are by lowering your blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and if you are diabetic, keeping glucose at a normal level(1).

            Controlling your kidney health externally is all about options. First of all, it is important to get enough exercise, which can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduce the risk of diabetes(1). Other ways to keep your kidneys in working order is to reduce your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, drink less alcohol, and quit smoking(1). If you are having trouble reducing your sodium intake, start by making home cooked meals from recipes found at Davita or the Kidney Kitchen (links below). You can also reduce the amount that you eat out at restaurants(2). If you do have a kidney disease, it is important to limit the amount of protein in your diet because this can cause already stressed kidneys to work harder.

            In the United States, 26 million people have kidney disease, which can lead to more dire health consequences if untreated(3). Make sure that you look after the health of your kidneys for the long run, by exercising, eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle.



Kidney Kitchen:




CDC Article for more reading:

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Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


Colorectal Cancer is a mashup of two words, colon and rectum. During the month of March we want to raise awareness of both cancer types and encourage people to take preventative action and get screened. Also, do not forget to wear blue on March 4th to support Colon Cancer Awareness.

The colon is part of the large intestine and normally supports the absorption of water and nutrients from the food we eat. The rectum is an area of the body where solid wastes are stored, both of these areas can be affected by cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in the United States(1). Men and women are equally likely to get both of these cancers, which is why it is important for everyone over the age of 50, to get a colonoscopy(1). Risk factors for colorectal cancers are family history, ulcerative colitis, polyps, and Crohn’s Disease(2). Other risk factors include previous cancers of the ovary, endometrium, or breast(2). Additionally, smoking, a high fat diet, obesity, abuse of alcohol, and diabetes are known to be linked with colorectal cancers(4). African Americans have a higher likelihood of developing these type of cancers(4).

There is good news, the CDC and Mayo Clinic both offer ways to reduce your risk of colorectal cancers. It is suggested by both institutions to exercise regularly and often, drink alcohol in moderation, and avoid using tobacco products(1,4). It is also thought the fiber and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can play a key role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancers(4).

In the end, the risk of colorectal cancer can be dramatically reduced by staying active, eating well, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In addition, catching the disease in early stages can significantly improve your chances of survival. So, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about a colonoscopy if you are 50 years or older.


Get Involved with the Colon Cancer Alliance at





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National Endometriosis Awareness Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

National Endometriosis Awareness Month


March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month and we here at the Connecticut Public Health Association want to inform you about this condition. Endometriosis is when part or some of the endometrium of the uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus(1). The endometrium is that structure that grows and is shed on a monthly basis in women, which is also known as the typical menstrual cycle. However, approximately  1 in 10 women and girls in the United States are affected with endometriosis, not to mention more than 176 million women and girls affected in the world(2). The reason why we say that women and girls are affected is because the age range that can develop this problem is from 12-60 year old individuals(2).

Symptoms of endometriosis can be indistinguishable from other natural processes or maladies. For instance, the most common symptom of this condition is pelvic pain, but the pain may only happen during a woman’s menstrual cycle(3). The reason for this is that the endometrium outside of the uterus still acts like endometrial tissue inside of the uterus and goes through the same growing/breakdown cycle responding to hormones(1,2). So, for this reason, pelvic pain or cramping that happens during an activity that is known to cause cramping does not raise people’s suspicions. Endometriosis can also be misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) because some people have symptoms of bowel disorders and nausea(2). Additionally, people diagnosed with this condition have symptoms of long and heavy periods, pain during intercourse, and infertility(1,2). For more information about symptoms, check out the links/sources at the bottom of this post.

Research has found there to be no risk factors associated with race, economics or area, women from all backgrounds are all equally affected(2). There are risk factors that can point to endometriosis, such as never giving birth, pelvic infection, family history, and inability of menstrual fluids to leave the body(1).

It is important for women to be aware of endometriosis because it can have an impact on your daily life and future ambitions. About 30-40% of women have fertility issues due to endometriosis. If you have questions or concerns, please see your healthcare provider and reference the below links(2,3). Additionally, there are support groups and where you can find them in the below links for those suffering from endometriosis.





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Government Powers

Posted By Fred Musante, Friday, February 26, 2016

In the middle of a recent commentary on the 2016 presidential candidates, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman confronts “anti-tax zealot” Grover Norquist over his zeal for shrinking government small enough to “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

“Am I a bad person,” Friedman asks, “if I hope that when Norquist slips in that bathtub and has to call 911, no one answers?”

You’re probably asking how I intend to get from there to public health. The answer is by piggybacking on exotic microbes, specifically the Zika and Ebola viruses, tropical pathogens that still managed to sneak into Connecticut and get a big government response even when they didn’t actually show up in person.

But suppose they did? Nobody likes big government pushing its weight around until its cogs and gears are all that’s standing between us and the next pandemic.

So here’s the question: Do we wait until people in Connecticut actually get a disease before doing something about it, or do we launch a response as prudent preparedness and risk being accused of exceeding our legal authority?

Connecticut wasn’t spared from the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, when a healthy young adult could come down with a fever before lunch and die from it less than 12 hours later. As the death toll peaked in October and November, government leaders ordered closing public events and even church services to prevent the spread of the disease.

Federal, state and local government agencies have the authority to order quarantines and isolation measures, and take measures as necessary in order to stop the spread of infectious diseases. In case any “small government” advocates believe the Founding Fathers intended something different, they need to explain why those same Founding Fathers didn’t object when city officials imposed strict quarantines and ordered people to receive prescribed medical treatment during the yellow fever epidemic in 1793 in Philadelphia.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence, supervised the public health response. Instead of passing laws to weaken the authority of health officers, Congress and President George Washington adjourned and left town until it was over.

Two recent stories in the news reminded us of the enforcement authority that public health officials possess to respond to epidemics, and raise the question mentioned earlier.

An ongoing Zika virus pandemic in parts of the Western Hemisphere is worrisome because the virus may cause birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. Connecticut has not seen a single case of the mosquito-borne illness, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that state government agencies would prepare a response should the disease appear. Although these measures aren’t supposed to include quarantines or isolation orders, it is easy to see how it could affect the state’s mosquito eradication program.

The same week, Malloy and state health officials were sued by people who were quarantined during the Ebola epidemic in 2014. The lawsuit argues that the quarantine orders were unconstitutional, since none of the people quarantined had come in contact with anyone showing symptoms of Ebola, and no cases ever broke out here. A spokesman for Malloy said the governor’s first priority was to protect the public and to take whatever steps were deemed necessary by health authorities.

It’s easy to see the problem. If preparedness waits until actual disease cases are prevalent in order to justify government’s powers and authority, what do we say to those who have paid a preventable cost?

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CPHA Newsletter - Winter 2015

Posted By Melissa Touma, Thursday, February 18, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2016

CPHA E-Newsletter—Winter 2015



Nearly 300 public health professionals and students from around the state gathered in Waterbury, CT on October 23rd for the CPHA Annual Meeting and Conference. Centered on the theme “Healthy by Design,” the meeting focused on how we can improve health outcomes from the ground up by creating health-conscious communities and working with partners to address health disparities.

The meeting was kicked off by our keynote speaker, Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine. His presentation, “Lifestyle is the Medicine,” described the steps we, as individuals and public health professionals, each can take to live healthier lives and support healthier communities. The meeting also featured 12 breakout session presentations sharing the latest information on evidence-based practices and emerging health issues.

We also had an excellent plenary session on community planning, “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper (LQC)…and Healthier Approaches to Placemaking” presented by Kate Rube (VP, Project for Public Spaces) and Jennifer Smith (Program Manager, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy). The session was moderated by Robert Miller, Eastern Highland Health District Director. PowerPoint presentations from the sessions can be found on the CPHA website. Our thanks to all our presenters, including our student posters, for an outstanding educational program!

CPHA would also like to thank all of our meeting exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers (see below) for their support. A huge round of appreciation goes to our Program Committee and volunteers!

This year is our 100 year anniversary, so come and celebrate with us at our Annual Meeting and Conference on November 10, 2016!

2015 Exhibitors

·         AJ Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Disabilities

·         Alzheimer’s Association

·         Andrea Borondy-Kitts

·         Community Health Network of Connecticut Foundation

·         Connecticut Athletic Trainer’s Association

·         Connecticut Department of Public Health – Asthma

·         Connecticut Department of Public Health – Health Surveillance and Statistics

·         CT School Health Promotion Programs and Activities

·         Healthy CT 2020

·         National Library of Medicine

·         Southern Connecticut State University

·         Stamford Clinical Services, LLC

·         University of Connecticut Health Center

·         Yale School of Public Health

2015 Advertisers

·         Connecticut Health Foundation

·         Data Haven

·         Southern Connecticut State University

·         University of Connecticut Health Center – Program in Public Health

·         Yale School of Public Health


Student Sponsorship

·         Tracey Scraba

·         William Faraclas


If you are interested in becoming an exhibitor, sponsor or advertiser for this year’s Annual Meeting and Conference, please contact the Program Committee at


The Connecticut Public Health Association (CPHA) will be hosting a Public Health Awards Breakfast on Friday, April 8th, 2016 at the Energize CT Center.  As part of National Public Health Week (April 4th-10th, 2016), CPHA will recognize and honor outstanding professionalism, dedication and contributions to the field of public health within the state of Connecticut.

The CPHA Call for Awards is an invitation to nominate an individual or agency from both traditional and non-traditional public health disciplines and sectors.  Nominees can be selected for one of the four awards:

·         The C.E.A. Winslow Award

·         The Ira V. Hiscock Award

·         The Charles G. Huntington III Award

·         The Michael J. Perlin Student Award


A description of CPHA’s awards can be found on the 2016 CPHA Call for Awards Nomination Form and on the CPHA website.  All nominees are evaluated on their strengths, talents and abilities, as well as their contributions to public health in Connecticut. Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination, even individuals who are not members of CPHA.

The deadline to submit the 2016 CPHA Call for Awards Nomination form is Friday, February 26th, 2016.   All nominations can be submitted to .   The CPHA Awards Committee will review all nominations and select award recipients to be acknowledged during the CPHA Public Health Awards Breakfast that will take place on Friday, April 8th, 2016.

Please take this opportunity to nominate an individual or organization that has made contributions to the field of public health and the Connecticut community.   If you have questions about the nomination process, please send an email to the Awards Committee Chair, Kathi Traugh, at





Plans for the 2016 CPHA Centennial Conference are underway. This year's theme is "Back to the Future: 100 Years of Public Health in CT and Beyond.”  The conference will be held at Anthony's Ocean View in New Haven on Thursday, November 10th.  More details to come!

If you are interested in joining the Program Planning Committee and helping with the centennial celebration, please send an email to and Laura King or Courtney Butler (co-chairs) will add you to the distribution list. Currently, we are meeting telephonically on a monthly basis. 


CPHA welcomes new Board Members:

·         Joann Ascheim, Director-At-Large, Department of Public Health

·         Andrea Boissevain, Ex-Officio, CT Association of Directors of Health Representative, City of Stamford Health District

·         Courtney Butler, Director-At-Large, Director Hospice Clinical Support Services, Kindred at Home

·         Natalee Martin, Director-At-Large, March of Dimes

·         Jeff Shaw, Director-At-Large, CT Association of Non-Profits


CPHA welcomes back Board members:


·         Brittany Allen, President, Department of Public Health

·         Jonathan Noel, President Elect, PhD student in Public Health – University of Connecticut

·         Susan Logan, Treasurer, Department of Public Health

·         Morgan Spencer, Secretary, Membership Committee Co-Chair, University of Connecticut Health Center

·         Kathi Traugh, Past-President, Yale School of Public Health



·         Pat Checko, Director-At-Large

·         Renee Coleman-Mitchell, Ex-Officio, Department of Public Health Representative

·         William Faraclas, Ex-Officio, Faculty Representative, Professor and Chair – Southern CT State University and Department of Public Health

·         Steve Huleatt, Ex-Officio, Finance Committee, West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District

·         Paul Hutcheon, Director-At-Large, Town of Killingworth Health District

·         Laura King, Ex-Officio, Program Committee Chair

·         Jenna Lupi, Ex-Officio, Advocacy Committee Co-Chair, SIM Program Management Office

·         Linda Mako, Ex-Officio, Health Education Committee Co-Chair, Aetna

·         Richard Melchreit, Director-At-Large, Department of Public Health

·         Colleen O'Connor, Ex-Officio, Advocacy Committee Chair, Public Health Consultant

·         Jill Spineti, Director-At-Large, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership

·         Carolyn Wysocki, Ex-Officio, CABOH Representative



The Connecticut State Innovation Model (SIM) is a $45 million grant awarded to the State through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, a division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established under the Affordable Care Act.  The SIM includes a variety of initiatives intended to establish a whole-person centered healthcare system through three main strategies: transforming the healthcare delivery system, reforming payment and insurance design, and developing population health capabilities.  An overview of the SIM and its strategies can be found here.


SIM initiatives include the Advanced Medical Home initiative, Community and Clinical Integration Program, Medicaid Quality Improvement and Shared Savings Program, Health Information Technology, Value Based Insurance Design, Quality Measure Alignment, the Community Health Worker Initiative, and the Population Health initiative.  Monthly updates on the initiatives can be found here.  The SIM governance model includes a variety of Councils and Committees representing a diverse group of stakeholders from around the state.  Details on these groups and how they impact the initiatives can be found here.  The Steering Committee and the Consumer Advisory Board oversee the SIM process.


The SIM Program Management Office is currently accepting RFPs for a Consumer Engagement Coordinator to support meaningful integration of the consumer perspective into SIM initiatives.  Please find details here.


There are often opportunities to get involved with SIM initiatives, with announcements posted on our main page and our Facebook page.  You can also receive Newsletters and E-Alerts by signing up here.





The New England Public Health Training Center, with a local performance site at the Yale Office of Public Health Practice, would like to announce our free online courses and upcoming webinars. These programs were developed in partnership with the CT Department of Public Health and CT Association of Directors of Health. To register, visit TRAIN at  

Health Homes Webinar Series:

“Liability and Code Enforcement: What Public Health Needs to Know”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

12:00-1:30 PM Course #1060896

“Connecticut’s Approach to Public Drinking Water and Public Health Protection”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

12:00-1:30PM Course #1060897


Hot Topics Webinar Series:

“Personal Professional Development Plans for Public Health Agencies”

Thursday, March 3, 2016

12:00-1:00 Course #1062070


“Hot Topics: Community Engagement Models and Stories from the Field” Course #1061266


Online Courses for new staff, boards of health and public health partners:

 “Orientation to Connecticut’s Public Health System”

Train Course #1056669


 “Cultural and Linguistic Standards 101 – CLAS 101” course # 1058875

For a complete list of our on-demand courses and recorded webinars, visit our website.


The Health Education Committee wants to hear from you!

The 2016 meetings are tentatively scheduled for April 13, June 8, and September 14 from 8:30 AM- 12:00 PM.  Because the annual conference is in November, no date has been set. Stay tuned for an announcement on meeting location and details on call-in and webinar options.  We welcome all suggestions and comments, and CPHA’s Health Education Committee (HEC) always welcomes new members.

For more information, please email the CPHA Health Education Committee Chairs, Linda Mako or Laura King.


The CPHA MOR has begun the new year with three significant goals: 

·  Pilot health literacy units for high school students in greater Hartford and New Britain communities as well as in Public Health 101 classes established under Education Connection.

·  Introduce 2,500 students to public health topics and careers through our MOR members to commemorate National Public Health Week. 

·   Secure funding for a MOR coordinator.

We are happy to report that we are well on our way to accomplishing our health literacy pilot, thanks to the support of two University of Connecticut MPH students, Fawatih Mohamed and Rabale Hasan.  The students are working with co-chair, Cyndi Billian Stern, to carry out a plan that involves several educators and public health professionals in the design and implementation of the pilot lessons.  Working with us, providing us with curriculum development expertise, feedback and connections to educators and students are:

·      Maureen Couvares, Manchester High School

·      Jane Donn, Education Connection  

·      Chris Willems, Public Health 101, teacher at New Haven’s MBA Academy

·      Pierrette Silverman, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England

·      Natasha Rabinowitz, Hartford Public High School  Academy of Nursing and Health Sciences  

·      Susan McConnell, Public Health 101, teacher Newtown High School

·        Jennifer Searfoss , APRN, Clinical Skills Patient Instructor University of Connecticut Health Center

·      Michele Stewart-Copes, Consultant, Health and Equity 

·      Petra Clark-Dufner, CT Area Health Education Centers 

·     Jill Spinetti, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership  

For the third consecutive year, the MOR will work to reach students in high schools and community colleges during (and around) National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2016.  We have updated last year’s successful NPHW Film Festival, a PowerPoint with several short videos on different aspects of public health, a tool that makes it easy for mentors to present.  

Please email either or Cyndi.Billianstern@cpha.infofor further information. We appreciate your help in recruiting new schools.  Please go to our MOR NPHW page for further information. 

The CPHA MOR bid farewell to co-chair Pamela Kilbey-Fox in December.  Her leadership and commitment over the past four years has been instrumental in growing the MOR from 29 member organizations in 2012, to 41 in 2016.  She will remain an active MOR member as we welcome new co-chair, Amanda Durante.  Amanda Durante holds a PhD in epidemiology and public health and is on the faculty of University of Connecticut Graduate Program in Public Health, where she teaches epidemiology and oversees internship and practicum programs.  She has been active in community needs assessment and health improvement planning in Connecticut with a focus on health disparities, and has strong ties to both New Haven and now the central Connecticut area.  We are thrilled to have her on board and look forward to a productive year.


Over the past year, CPHA has been developing an updated strategic plan that broadens our mission and vision to more directly address Connecticut’s public health concerns. The Board recently approved the strategic plan, which focuses our efforts for the next 2 years on the following goals:

1)      Enhance Public Health Education

2)      Promote Health Through Advocacy

3)      Strengthen Membership and Organizational Capacity

4)      The plan is attached to this newsletter, but you can also find it on the CPHA website.



Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor, Town of Stratford

Public Health Charge Nurse, City of New Haven

Public Health Nursing Coordinator, City of New Haven

Deputy Community Services Administrator, City of New Haven

Public Health Nurse, City of Hartford

Nutrition Aide, City of Hartford

Public Health Preparedness Coordinator, City of Hartford

Clinical Research Associate II (PTN) Project Coordinator, Center for Public Health and Health Policy, UConn Health

Program Nutritionist- WIC, City of Stamford

Download File (PDF)

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American Heart Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Monday, February 15, 2016
Updated: Monday, February 1, 2016

Heart health is not just important for the individual, but for the community as a whole. There are many diseases that can affect the heart, such as heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and heart defects. Some of these diseases are preventable and others are genetic or congenital. However, it is still alarming that in 2011 heart diseases were the leading cause of death for all ages in Connecticut(3). This creates a huge burden on the community because if cardiovascular diseases are leading cause of death, then it can be extrapolated that there are many people with undiagnosed/untreated cardiovascular disease.

So, with this thought in mind, I thought we should focus on the prevention of heart issues and maintenance of heart health in five basic areas: Exercise, nutrition, stress, and weight management


Exercise for a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association recommends that individuals “engage in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150” minutes of total exercise(1). Another option is “25 minutes of vigorous” activity 3 days per week and moderate to high-intensity muscle strength training 2 days per week(1). It is a common misconception that you have to be a marathoner running many miles to get aerobic exercise. Simply put many of the aerobic exercises can be done with a partner or on a lunch break. Some of the suggested activities include: walking briskly, running/jogging, dancing, swimming, biking, climbing stairs at work, or playing sports such as tennis, basketball, soccer, or racquetball(1). However, the activities are not just limited to these, anything that increases your heart rate for 30 minutes can help with heart health and prevent disease.

            Start today to make your heart healthier only 30 minutes a day, by creating a walking group with colleagues, joining a club sport, or going to the gym with a motivated friend.






Nutrition for a Healthy Heart

In an automobile it is important to use high quality oil and the correct gasoline. The lower quality of each we put in, the less likely it is that the car will maintain the same performance as it had when it was new. The same goes for food, the oil and gas of our bodies, can have a direct impact on the heart, the human engine. If we eat food that is unhealthy for us, high in cholesterol and sodium, the heart begins to have to work harder. It is important to eat healthy food because just like changing the oil in a car, it is preventative maintenance for our bodies.

The American Heart Association recommends reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood by eating the following foods:(2)

·         whole/multi-grain foods (bran and oats)

·         Fatty fishes (salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna)

·         Antioxidant rich foods (fruits and vegetables)

·         Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (avocado, flax seeds, canola oil, olive oil)

·         Plant sterols (walnuts and almonds)

On the other hand it is important to avoid foods such as:(2)

·         Fried foods

·         Animal products high in saturated fat

·         Simple sugars

·         High fat processed meats

·         Saturated oils (coconut and palm oil)

·         Shortening (partially hydrogenated margarine and lard)


In addition, reducing the amount of salt/sodium in one’s diet can reduce the blood pressure, therefore making the heart work less to pump blood around the body. There are many resources for reducing sodium in your diet, but one suggested one is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Changing your diet does not have to be a huge undertaking, it can be as simple as drinking water instead of soda and ordering a salad with grilled chicken instead of a hamburger and fries. Every little bit of effort matters when it comes to your health.

            In the end it is up to you, good food in gets good energy out. In other words, you can feed your body what it needs and maintain amazing health or you can choke it with unhealthy foods and be in the “shop” every other year.





Stress Management for a Healthy Heart

            Let’s face it, nobody likes stress. It can take a toll on your emotions, relationships, and heart health. That’s why it is important to take the steps to manage stress. The American Heart Association recommends the below tips for reducing stress in your life. The great thing about this list is that if one of the steps does not work for you, there are nine other routes to take. Also, check out the TED talks video link that is attached to the bottom of this post for research on how your perception of stress can actually make you less stressed.


1.    Talk with family and friends.

2.    Engage in daily physical activity.

3.    Embrace the things you are able to change.

4.    Remember to laugh.

5.    Give up the bad habits.

6.    Slow down.

7.    Get enough sleep.

8.    Get organized.

9.    Practice giving back.

10.  Try not to worry.


Source for stress fighting health habits:

Great TED talks video about “How to make stress your friend”:


Weight Management for a Healthy Heart

Another aspect of heart health is managing a health body weight. It is important for an individual to have a healthy weight, because then the heart does not have to work as hard in your day-to-day activities to pump blood around the body.

The most important way to begin managing your weight is to filter what is going into the system (aka food). Eating healthy foods with nutrients and fiber are going to help manage weight more readily than junk food and simple carbohydrates. Additionally, regulating portion sizes can reduce the amount of food eaten in a setting and excess calories consumed. Two great resources for weight management can be found at The American Heart Association and The National Institute of Health, both of the links can be found at the bottom of this post.

Managing body weight is not only important for your heart health. Excessive body weight can affect all body systems from causing back and knee pain, development of diabetes, and muscle atrophy.

So, when you manage your weight to have a healthy heart you are also helping the rest of your body. Reducing body fat, eating healthier foods, and exercise will all help to make you more resilient to diseases.


The American Heart Association- Weight Management:

National Instiute of Health- Weight Management:

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AMD/Low Vision

Posted By Michael Craven, Monday, February 1, 2016

This month in health awareness is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision month. AMD is a condition that affects the part of the retina that accounts for central vision, the macula(1). According to EyeHealth Northwest, to simulate AMD they suggest to:

 Take your left hand and cover your left eye, now make a fist with your right hand. Take your right fist and place it directly in front of your right eye. The only thing you should see is images in your periphery or side vision. Now imagine that this is how you are to function within the world.” (1)

A survey by the Vision Health Initiative in the United States describes 1.6 million people over the age of 50 say they have macular degeneration(2). In Connecticut, approximately 2.49% or 30,804 residents suffer from this disease(4).

AMD can be a slow condition in some and fast in others, but most people affected are over the age of 50(1,5). In the slow version of AMD, many people do not know they have lost much of their vision until the later stages(1). Risk factors include family genetics, smoking, and high blood pressure(1,3). It is also found that obesity and race (caucasians more susceptible) play roles in the development of AMD(1,3). However, researchers at the National Eye Institute part of the National Institute of Health, say that reducing some or all of the risk factors such as smoking can help reduce the impact of the disease(3). Additionally, exercise, eating nutritious foods and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system can reduce the likelihood of AMD(3).

Macular degeneration comes in two major varieties and three stages(3,5). The three stages are Early, Intermediate, and Late, which all related to the amount of degradation of the macula/vision loss of the individual(3). One of the varieties is Dry Macular Degeneration, and begins as a slightly blurry area in the central vision of an individual(5). The more severe type of the disease is known as Wet Macular Degeneration, and is due to blood vessels nearby leaking fluid into the macula causing the macula to raise from the back of the eye(5,7).

It is important to be aware of AMD as you and others you care about grow older. Early and intermediate stages of degeneration usually have no symptoms, however, it can be detected with a comprehensive dilated eye exam(3). If you do have AMD, there is recent research showing methods (surgical, medicine, and holistic) that help reduce the progress of macular degeneration, but please talk to your healthcare professional for more information(3).









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National Radon Action Month

Posted By Michael Craven, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

There is something lurking in the buildings of many Connecticut residents. It is invisible, has no odor, and is a public health threat. It is not mold spores, deadly viruses from mouse droppings, or carbon monoxide, but it seeps in through the rocks and pools in an unventilated subterranean enclosures. This silent radioactive culprit is radon.


The history behind radon is interesting because it was technically discovered by two scientists, who discovered different aspects of this gas. In 1899, Ernest Rutherford discovered that a gaseous element was releasing a type of radiation known today as alpha radiation(2). The next year, Friedrich Ernst Dorn found that radium was releasing a gas, in fact the heaviest gas known(2). Radon is released from the natural decay of uranium, thorium, and radium in the earth(1,3). This gas was found to be a causative agent of lung cancer when it was noticed that many uranium miners were dying of lung cancer(3). Radon moves through the earth toward the surface and since it is so heavy can accumulate in buildings without adequate ventilation. It does this by permeating the home through cracks in the building materials(2,3). This gas is soluble in water and can therefore be ingested or breathed if people use contaminated ground water supplies(6).

So, what are the risks of radon in a home, school, or business? Well according to the National Cancer Institute, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and World Health Organization (WHO) it is estimated that between 15,000-22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States are caused by radon and is second leading cause of lung cancer(1,3,4). Lung cancer is caused by the inhalation of the radioactive gases causing damage to lung tissue(8). Since radon is soluble in water there is a risk of stomach cancer from ingestion, however, a higher risk comes from aerosolization of the contaminated water when showering(1). The EPA’s action level for radon in buildings is 4 picocuries/Liter of air(1,8). At this level of exposure over a lifetime it is expected that 7 out of 1000 people could get lung cancer(1). If these 1000 individuals were smokers and exposed to this level over a lifetime, it is expected that about 62 people would get lung cancer(1). In short, smoking further exacerbates the risk of lung cancer. These are the reasons why the “Surgeon General recommends that all homes in the U.S be tested for radon”(8).

There are three different methods (short-term, long-term, and water testing) that a home or building can be tested for radon. Short-term testing remains in the area for 2-90 days depending on the method(1). These type of tests are not going to tell you your yearly average level radon, since levels vary from day-to-day and during the season(1,3). The other option is long-term tests, which are in an area for greater than 90 days(1). This is useful for finding the overall yearly average of radon in a building(1,3). According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health Radon Fact Sheet, test kits can be purchased from the American Lung Association and National Radon Program Services, the contact information of both will be available at the bottom of this post(8). The third method tests the potable water for radon(6). The Connecticut Department of Public Health states that if an “average of two or more waterborne radon tests is equal to or greater than 5,000 picocuries/Liter” then the water should be treated(6).

If your home does have an average radon level greater than or equal to 4 picocuries/Liter of air, there are options to reduce this hazard. The CT DPH has a list of qualified radon mitigation professionals that are able to handle this job safely(5). Additionally, the EPA suggests that the home or building should be tested after the radon problem is fixed to ensure that the odorless, invisible gas is still not at high levels(1). Radon is a public health concern, but with the right amount of testing, knowledge, and prevention, there is no need to worry about the harmful side effects.

(Check out the Radon Potential Map and Radon Levels for Connecticut, sources 7 and 9 respectively, for a more in depth CT view)


Places to purchase radon test kits:

American Lung Association: 1-800-LUNG-USA

National Radon Program Services:

CT DPH Radon Program List of Qualified Radon Mitigation Professionals:



1 A Citizen’s Guide to Radon:

2 Radon Fact Sheet:

3 Radon and Cancer:

4 Radon:

5 CT DPH Radon Program List of Qualified Radon Mitigation Professionals:

6 CT DPH- Radon Program:

7 CT DEEP- Radon Potential Map:

8 CT DPH- Basic Radon Facts:

9 Radon Levels for Connecticut:

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