Navigate the Grocery Store with the Heart-Check Certification
National Heart Month is upon us in the month February. We strive to bring
awareness to not only warning signs of heart related conditions but ways
to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and more. One of the best
ways to protect our heart is through a heart healthy diet. A heart healthy
diet is one that focuses on whole foods – a variety of fruits and
vegetables, lean sources of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Unfortunately,
many of us consume too many processed items and too few of these whole foods.
However, for most of us, the choice starts at the grocery store. Grocery
shopping can be daunting, especially when we are trying to choose more
healthful options, but we may not know where to begin. The American Heart
Association has created a tool that can help us, called the Heart-Check
Certification. This program is designed to help shoppers like you and
me choose heart healthy foods based on a number of recommendations.
Specifically focusing on sources of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin
C, iron, calcium, protein, and dietary fiber, limiting sodium and bad
fats, the Heart Check Mark allows us to be confident in the foods we are
choosing and ensures the products are aligning with the American Heart
Association for a heart healthy diet. Listed below are the criteria for
a food item to be Heart Check Certified. Next time you are in the grocery
store, look for the heart check!
Source of Nutrients –
Beneficial Nutrients (naturally occurring): 10% or more of the Daily Value
of 1 of 6 nutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, protein or dietary fiber)
Limited in Bad Fats –
Saturated Fat: 1g or less per standard serving size and 15% or less calories
from saturated fat; Trans Fat: Less than 0.5g per label serving size and
per standard serving size. Products containing partially hydrogenated
oils are not eligible for certification.
Limited in Sodium –
Sodium: One of four sodium limits applies depending on the particular food
category: up to 140 mg, 240 mg or 360 mg per label serving, or 480 mg
per label serving and per standard serving size.*
If you are interested in learning more about navigating the grocery store
and choosing healthful foods, reach out to our Registered Dietitian, Lindsie
Covington, MS, RDN, LDN who is now offering group grocery store tours.
You can reach her at
Recommended Screenings for Heart Health
Heart disease is the first leading cause of death in the United States.
In combination with strokes, this accounts for roughly one third of all
deaths. Annually, these conditions cost the healthcare system an estimated
$137 billion in direct costs, and an additional $127 billion in indirect
costs through lost productivity. More than 60% of adults in the United
States are employed (in which they spend more than 50% of their waking
hours). This provides employers a unique opportunity to promote and support
cardiovascular health, and as a result the overall health and well-being
of their workforce.
An important aspect of lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease is managing
health behaviors and risk factors. Some of these factors may be assessed
during a routine medical appointment, and may depend on age, personal
medical history and if there is any family history of cardiovascular disease.
The key screening tests for monitoring cardiovascular health are:
Blood Pressure: This is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure
does not usually have obvious symptoms, and unmanaged high blood pressure
can greatly increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. The normal range
for blood pressure should be around 120/80. It is recommended to check
blood pressure at least on an annual basis, and can also be easily monitored at home.
Cholesterol: In adults 20 years of age or older, it is recommended that a fasting
lipid profile be used to estimate the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This blood test measures total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol,
HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and triglycerides. If the health
care provider determines an increased risk for heart disease or stroke,
cholesterol levels may be tested more frequently. Like high blood pressure,
often cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medication.
Body Weight: Healthcare providers use Body Mass Index to determine a healthy body
weight and composition. This index takes into consideration age, weight
and waist circumference. Obesity presents a much higher risk for health
problems, such as heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and congestive
Blood Glucose: High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels pose a greater risk of developing
insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Untreated diabetes
can lead to many medical conditions, and include heart disease and stroke.
An individual 45 years of age or older who is overweight and has at least
one additional risk factor, a blood glucose test may be recommended.
There are other health behaviors that will contribute to cardiovascular health:
Smoking: It is estimated that smoking can increase the risk for heart disease
up to 4 times. In general, smoking causes diminished overall health which
contributes to increased absenteeism from work and overall increased health
care utilization and costs.
Nutrition: Healthy eating begins with healthy food choices, and a balanced diet
is the key to heart-healthy eating. Incorporating a variety of fruits
and vegetables, healthy sources of protein such as nuts or lean meats,
and minimizing the intake of processed foods, salts and sugars is considered
a health dietary pattern. Employers can encourage health eating habits
by providing nutritious and healthy options in their vending machines
or cafeterias. Providing healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts and water
at staff meetings also encourage healthy habits.
Physical Activity: It is recommended to incorporate some sort of physical activity (that
is not part of your normal activity) 3-5 times a week. A goal of 150 minutes
of moderate physical activity weekly can help you maintain your weight
and your cardiovascular fitness. It’s not always easy to schedule
regular exercise, but making daily choices such as taking the stairs,
parking further away, or walking during work breaks can help create some
healthy habits. Incorporating physical activity opportunities into the
workplace not only provides healthy options, it can also increase productivity
and team building.
Health First Center at the Catawba Valley Medical Center is available to help provide on-site
health screenings, tobacco cessation support, education, and other opportunities
to keep the workforce as healthy as possible. For more information, contact
Meghan Harmon (Community Health Outreach Manager) at 828-732-6201 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources include American Heart Association and Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute
Specialty Physicals for Occupational Health
Employers conduct pre-employment physicals for a variety of reasons. Some
common reasons include ensuring that the employee is physically able to
do the job, detecting any potential health risks, and minimizing the company’s
liability in an accident. As part of an overall occupational health and
safety program, physical exams can help you address questions like these
as a strategy in reducing health care and workers’ compensation
costs. By considering the variety of physical exams available and understanding
the purpose of each, you take an important first step toward achieving
the healthiest and most productive workforce possible.
Pre-employment physicals help ensure that new employees are healthy and
able to perform their duties safety and effectively. Offering a pre-employment
physical can help reduce the risk of workplace accidents, injuries, and
illnesses, which can be costly to the employee and the company.
A physical typically includes a medical examination of the candidate’s
overall health, medical history, and physical ability to determine if
they are fit for the job. The specific elements of a pre-employment physical
will vary depending on the job requirements and the employer’s policies.
Some companies and job functions require additional testing such as drug
screening, vision and hearing screening or a skills-based physical fitness
Exams for Public Service- First Responders, Police Officer, Firefighter
First responders are a critical component within our community, providing
a safe environment for our citizens. Due to the daily physical and mental
demands of their roles and the potential exposure risks they endure; their
physical exam is more comprehensive than a traditional physical exam.
Firefighters must maintain a high level of physical fitness to ensure they
can climb stairs and ladders, carry heavy equipment, wear a self-contained
mask and breathing equipment, and assist people to safety. They can be
exposed to smoke, fumes, and harmful chemicals while working.
Catawba Valley Occupational Health offers customized firefighter medical
exams tailored to meet the individual needs and adhere to the current
NFPA guidelines and the federal and state OSHA regulations.
Police officers have a physically demanding and emotionally stressful job.
It is important that police officers undergo physical exams to monitor
their wellbeing on a regular basis. It is also important that the officers
receive pre-screening to ensure they can safety perform the duties of
their jobs to keep our community safe. Catawba Valley Occupational Health
offers thorough examinations in compliance with all local and state guidelines.
Our staff at Catawba Valley Occupational Health can help meet your individualized
physical exam needs. Call 828-326-3230 to schedule an appointment today.