Although it’s not necessary to adopt a vegetarian diet for a heart healthy lifestyle, it can certainly be beneficial to follow it in some ways. Doctors often will recommend having a healthy amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet, especially in cases where you have high cholesterol, as a plant based diet can decrease plaque in the blood vessels.

The good news for anyone who is an avid meat eater is that you don’t have to completely quit eating meat to reap the benefits of a plant based diet. Simply reducing the amount of animal products in your diet lowers your risk of high blood pressure.

Below are just some of the ways that having a plant based diet can improve your heart health.

Plants have less saturated fat

Saturated fats, or fats that are saturated with hydrogen, are typically solid at room temperature and are found in meat and animal products like beef, lamb, butter, cheese and high fat dairy products. According to the American Heart Association, eating saturated fats increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which in turn raises your risk for heart disease.

Plants Increase Fiber in Your Diet

A well-rounded, plant based diet should also increase the amount of fiber you get. And increasing fiber is one way to reduce the bad cholesterol circulating in your body.

Fiber interacts with the bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and helps remove it more quickly from your body. Some rich fiber foods include beans, lentils, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Fruits and Veggies Lower Blood Pressure

A well known and often recommended diet to people with hypertension is the DASH diet, which has a focus on reducing the intake of sodium, but it also helps to reduce the amount of meat regularly eaten. With a focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, and to only eat 5 ounces of protein based foods daily it’s a great option for your heart health.

Plants Enrich Your Diet With Omega-3s

Studies have suggested that eating omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and it can also help to lower your cholesterol. Fish like salmon sardines and tuna are rich with these acids. If you’re looking for alternatives to these though, we recommend plant based foods like pumpkin seeds, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

Beneficial Nutrients

Along with helping to reduce risks of heart disease by cutting down the plaque build up made up from bad cholesterol, fruits and vegetables are chocked full of antioxidants, plant sterols, and potassium, which are all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Potassium helps to reduce the effects of sodium, which is known to raise blood pressure in the body.

If you’re looking for some great recipes to help maintain a heart healthy diet, just go to our recipes section here.

Winter yard work

With much of the country already experiencing plenty of snowfalls this winter, we thought that it would be a good time to talk about how the cold weather can increase the risk of a heart attack or a sudden cardiac arrest. More importantly how you can protect your heart and reduce that risk.

Although shoveling can seem like an easy chore, it can easily become a strenuous activity leaving you with plenty of fatigue. Lifting snow with a shovel back and forth across a driveway can take a lot out of those who are not regularly active. This can also be the case for those who have snowblowers, as the act of pushing the heavy machine can cause the same amount of strain.

In addition to the activity, the cold weather is another contributor to an increased risk as it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood more likely to form clots.

Follow our tips below to make sure that you’re well prepared for shoveling your home this winter.

Before you shovel snow

  • If you’re recovering from a recent heart attack or have any doubts about shoveling affecting your health, please contact a doctor.
  • Look to avoid shoveling early on in the morning. Your blood is more prone to clotting due to the lower temperature. Aim to do it at a warmer point of the day if possible.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling, as your blood will be diverted from the heart to the stomach.
  • Treat shoveling like a workout and warm up your body before you begin. Even something as simple as walking to the end of the street will be beneficial.
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While shoveling snow

  • Use a small shovel that you can comfortably handle, rather than one that can pick up a lot of snow. Having a smaller shovel will allow for more loads, and won’t stress out your body.
  • Give yourself a lot of time to shovel. Plan to make frequent, 15-minute breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Dress in the appropriate amount of layers. Dress so you avoid hypothermia, but not too much and overheat. You could sweat a lot with too much clothing, which could result in the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for.
  • Make sure to cover your head and your neck.
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems).
  • Watch for the stereotypical signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you or you think someone is having a heart attack, call 911 right away.

We hope that you’ve found these tips valuable. Stay safe and happy shoveling!

Keeping a proper sleep schedule can sometimes be tricky. Many of us feel distracted at night because we browse social media or we end up binge watching our favourite shows on Netflix.

A new study that was published last week suggests that those who struggle to get a goodnight’s sleep and who suffer from insomnia type symptoms have a greater chance of having a stroke or a heart attack.

It focused on a few key areas: do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Waking up too early in the morning? Or trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep? Which many of us can relate to. Below are some of our tips on how to make sure you have a well regulated sleep schedule.

1. Avoid coffee and tea in the late afternoon/evening

We know that coffee and tea are two delicious drinks that many of us simply cannot eliminate, especially during the morning. It is no secret that caffeinated drinks will keep you awake at night, and the reason being, caffeine has a stimulant that is meant to keep you more awake. However, what we may not know is that, coffee stays in your body for approximately 6 hours after you drink a cup, according to ‘Livestrong’. In order to prevent staying awake at night, try to limit your caffeine in-take six hours before bed time. That way your body will release the stimulant and you will feel tired naturally.

2. Avoid Napping & Technology

Taking a nap is probably the greatest feeling in the world but it may be a bad idea for consistent night-time sleep. Napping for a long period of time can result in feeling grumpy, and will affect your ability to fall asleep at night. If you try to limit the time frame of your naps or napping in general, it may aid into the elimination of an irregular sleep pattern. Instead, go to sleep earlier than you normally would.

In light of napping and falling asleep at a decent time, technology can sometimes be problematic for a proper sleep schedule. We have all had those nights, where we feel so tired, to the point that one eye is open but the other is closed. The reason for the open eye may be because of the cute video on social media, of the cute puppy taking care of his younger brother and sisters. While it is okay to be immersed in technology, it is equally as important to give yourself a schedule. Consider stopping your browsing an hour before bed time so that your mind has the ability to relax.

3. Limit Netflix and Chill

We all love Netflix and chill, more specifically, the snacks involved such as potato chips, ice cream, candy, and popcorn. While we indulge in our snacks and watch the new episode of stranger things, it is important to know when to call it quits- and tell your mind ‘one more episode’ isn’t happening. Perhaps, give yourself a cut off time for television, but it is important to be diligent in doing so. This will ensure that you are sleeping on time, gaining enough rest for your busy days at the office, and helping to prevent the possibility of certain health issues.

Overall, it is important to keep schedules and routines. Once your body gets used to an everyday task, it then becomes difficult to stray away from it. Furthermore, lack of sleep can cause severe health issues that may not be as evident now but could be in the near future. Sleeping regularly and making sure you are receiving enough rest is important to properly function every day. You will feel more organized, alert, and energized – perhaps, you won’t need that cup of coffee after all!

November is CPR month in Canada and many organizations are doing their part to help educate Canadians on how to properly respond to emergency situations. Knowing how to do so is important, as emergencies where CPR is required, has a vastly better outcome if there are bystanders actively performing CPR, rather than waiting for help to come.

In the cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest the chances of being saved increase even more if you are using an AED or a defibrillator, like our MIKEY’s. These aren’t always as easy to find though as they’re primarily set up in locations that large numbers of people frequent, like hockey rinks or schools. It’s important to have them available in locations like these as they’re so often frequented by the public, but because these locations are so big, they can often be difficult to find.

To help you know where AED’s are, we encourage you to check out the Ontario Registry which indicates where an AED is closest to you in the province (If you don’t live in Ontario, we encourage you to check if your province has an up to date registry). Although the registry has many AED’s added, it doesn’t have them all. So, we encourage you to always keep an eye out when entering a large location so that you know where to find one in case of an emergency.

St.John’s Ambulance

We also recommend a newer tool from our friends at the St.John’s Ambulance. They have partnered with AEDMAP to create an app the shares the location of AED’s throughout Canada. It utilizes google maps and indicates where AED’s are in proximity to your location.

Fortunately, we have a pretty good grasp of all of the locations that our MIKEY’s are housed. We have 100 MIKEY’s placed in GO stations in and around the GTA, a MIKEY on every one of TWO MEN AND A TRUCKS® moving trucks, and a full list of MIKEY’s that we’ve donated to families, schools and organizations from all over the world.

Connect with us on our social channels, and let us know where you’ve seen a MIKEY!

November is CPR Month in Canada and various organizations  are aiming to highlight the need for Canadians to know the proper procedures for resuscitating someone in an emergency situation.

The importance of knowing how to perform CPR is more important than ever, as each year 23,000 lives are taken because of heart attacks and cardiac arrest. Heart attacks may sometimes lead to cardiac arrest, a condition in which a person stops breathing and their heart stops pumping blood.

Fortunately for Canadians that are interested in learning how to save a life, there are many resources available that can teach you the proper procedures. We’ve composed some of these helpful resources into a list below.

CPR Resources

The Mikey Young at Heart App

The free app which was created to provide high school students with an understanding of CPR procedures and how to use an AED, is taught through instructional videos that they can view at their own pace. Not only is the app easy to use, the hours accumulated on it also count towards their volunteer hours that they will need to earn during the semester. Don’t worry if you’re not in school, the app can be used by anyone.

Download the app today to learn more.

Learn How To Maintain an AED

When using an AED, the odds of a life being saved are greatly increased, which is why it’s so important for people around the world to know how to use and operate an AED.Along with knowing how to use a defibrillator, it’s also hugely important that you know how to maintain and check if it’s working.

It is easy to make sure a defibrillator like our MIKEY’s are properly maintained and ready to save a life should the need arise. Follow the link here to learn how to properly maintain an AED. Click here to download our checklist and manual.

The St. Johns Ambulance

The National organization has been a stalwart for CPR information throughout Canada since their inception in 1883. They offer various courses depending on type of first aid training certifications that participants are looking for. They also act as a great source for any first aid guidelines and industry information as they are seen across Canada as the experts in certifications for first responders.

 The Heart and Stroke Foundation

The organization which gathers funding and organizes studies in the areas of heart and stroke, is a great resource for information on how to respond to emergency situations. On their site they have short videos on how to react to a cardiac arrest, or how to use an AED; as well as some nice promotional materials that are downloadable and can be hung up in your workplace, school or home.

If you’re aware of another resource that you think is valuable, please feel free to let us know. Take the steps today, that can help save a life tomorrow.