Super Simple Game Day Playbook

The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association set the scrimmage line on game day feasts.

 It’s time for the big game, and you know what that means! Time to grab your jersey, don your lucky socks, and grab some munchies before kickoff.

But can you keep it healthy at your game-watching bash? Yes!

Whether you’re cheering on your favorite team or checking out the game day commercials, you need to check out this heart healthy ‘playbook’ from the American Heart Association to make sure your celebration equals a touchdown. No need to bench the chili and wings.  With just a few minor tweaks, your menu can go from second string to starter while lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in the U.S.

The Food Playbook:

  1. Eat your fruits and veggies. Mom and Dad were on to something when they taught you to eat an apple a day. Fill up half your plate with these low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods that keep you satisfied. Choose veggies with hummus, salsa or other low-fat dip for a crunchy snack.
  2. Stay hydrated. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Reach for water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks, which add extra calories with little nutritional value. Plain water too boring? Try sparkling water or add fruit wedges to jazz it up.
  3. Put down the double bacon cheeseburger. Instead, reach for a grilled turkey burger piled high with veggies like avocado, tomato, onions and lettuce. In other words, choose lean cuts of meat and poultry without skin and extra fat removed. And add lots of veggies for an extra boost of nutrients.
  4. Hold off on the wings. A game day staple, wings are delish and often loaded with calories and trans fats. For the same spicy kick, toss grilled or baked chicken breast strips in your favorite hot sauce. You’ll barely notice the difference!
  5. Drink responsibly. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and can have other negative effects on your health. Watching football can mean enjoying a few beers or cocktails, but spacing them out by drinking a cup of water between each drink will help keep you on track.
  6. Toss the chips. Game snacks can be full of sodium. Along with the veggies, try a low sodium dip, unsalted nuts and seeds, and whole-grain crackers.
  7. Take your phone out. No, not to tweet. To check your portions. Portion control can help you keep track of the foods you are consuming without going overboard. For instance, a serving of chicken breast (3 ounces) is about the size of a smart phone and a medium banana is about the size of a pencil. For more portion comparisons, check out www.heart.org/PortionDistortion.

Looking for more healthy game day tips? Visit www.heart.org/GettingHealthy.



You’ve surely noticed, in all those shopping trips this December, that there’s one color dominating the clothing choices: red. And in the approaching Christmas days, as you are shopping, it is a great time to look for red sweaters, tops, dresses and lights to adorn your home or business in honor of National Wear Red Day, Friday February 2, 2018.

National Wear Red Day draws attention to the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America – killing more women than all forms of cancer combined. Most women don’t notice the symptoms of heart disease until it’s too late. By wearing red or decorating the exterior of your home or business red, you will help share the message that heart disease is killing our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.
For information about how you can participate in National Wear Red Day, call the American Heart Association at 413-335-9044, or email mary.ann.burns@heart.org. To learn more about your risk for heart disease and stroke, go to www.goredforwomen.org or heart.org.



Alice’s Story – “Had I not called “911” I would most probably not be here”

“My name is Alice and I am a 64yr old female who is employed at Mohegan Sun

Casino. I am a shift manager at the Bus Lobby and I would consider my position to be overall moderately stressful. I mention this to alert you to the fact that not everyone displays the same symptoms and I hope by sharing my story, I can heighten your awareness.

For approximately a year prior, I had experienced heartburn on more than one occasion. Therefore I was not overly concerned. Usually I was relieved by an antacid. On that particular day, I had forgotten to take my high blood pressure medication. When I realized this, I took both and began to feel back to normal. Luckily I had the next couple of days off as part of my regular schedule. I let my husband know what happen and he said, you should have called “911”. Arriving back at work, I explained to my operational manager, Gail my recent episode.

The very next day when returning from lunch, I began to experience the same symptoms. I then relayed this to Gail and she suggested to call “911” and tell them my symptoms. When I did, they arrived and transported me to L&M in New London. Gail called my husband to meet at L&M.

The report from the EMT’s showed I needed a stent placed upon my arrival at the ER, However, they attempted the stent placement then realized I had a tear in my artery and promptly stopped the procedure. Dr. Cambi my cardiologist said if he proceeded with the procedure I would have bled to death.

Hospitalization and medication became the answer to my prayers. The doctors made it clear that had I not called “911” I would most probably not be here to tell you my story. Please be aware 80% of the people do not survive this attack and that heart attacks take many different forms and you should not ignore your body when you know something is very out of your ordinary routine.”

Alice is a volunteer for the American Heart Association and shares her story whenever possible.  If you want to know more about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, find out more:





The American Heart Association will hold its annual Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk on Sunday, September 24 at Mohegan Reservation in Uncasville. Over 1,500 supporters and survivors are expected to attend and raise funds to support cardiovascular research and education.


Walk activities begin at 9:00am. Prior to the walk kick-off, participants can enjoy complimentary health screenings, a kid’s zone with entertainment, and music. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a walk through Mohegan Reservation – rain or shine. 


Those looking to start a walk team still have time to register. Registration is free. Individuals who raise $100 or more receive a t-shirt. To register as a team or individual for the Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk go to www.EasternCTHeartWalk.org, or for more information contact the American Heart Association at (203) 295-2936.




The American Heart Association announces that Aetna has signed on as the signature sponsor of the American Heart Association’s 2017 Connecticut Heart Ball. Kay Mooney, Vice President of Benefits and Well-being at Aetna will serve as the event’s chair, leading all fundraising efforts.

The Connecticut Heart Ball, the American Heart Association’s signature social event, will take place on December 2nd at the Hartford Marriott Downtown where 400 business leaders, community leaders, and philanthropists will gather to raise awareness and celebrate the important work of the American Heart Association. The elegant affair will feature dinner, dancing, and a live auction.

“I am honored to serve as chair of the 2017 Connecticut Heart Ball”, said Kay Mooney. “Aetna’s community support for the Heart Ball helps fund lifesaving research, prevention and education programs, all of which are critical to saving lives from heart disease and stroke.”
The theme for the Heart Ball is Igniting a Healthier Community focuses on promoting kid’s health and the health of Connecticut communities. Each sponsor’s support of the event will deliver a health asset in the community, such as providing CPR training kits in schools, providing recess equipment to underserved schools, and bringing awareness to congenital heart defects.  The combined efforts will be celebrated at the Heart Ball.


“The community-minded work that Kay Mooney has done working on our Go Red For Women Luncheon, Hartford Heart Walk, and Circle of Red makes her an inspiring choice for this year’s Heart Ball chair,” said Judy Campisi, American Heart Association, Connecticut Executive Director. “We are delighted Kay will lead this year’s Heart Ball fundraising efforts. Her unparalleled commitment to wellness, and her generosity for our cause will provide the leadership to make the evening a huge success”.

The American Heart Association is actively seeking corporate sponsorships and individual contributions toward this year’s Heart Ball campaign and event. If your company is interested in joining this campaign, or if you are interested in making a personal gift to this cause, please contact Christina Asaro at the American Heart Association at 203-303-3340 or christina.asaro@heart.org. More information about the cause and the event can be found at HeartHeartBall.heart.org.


Nominate Someone You Know For the Stroke & Caregivers Virtual Gallery Presented by Hoffman Auto Group

Nominate Someone You Know For the Stroke & Caregivers Virtual Gallery Presented by Hoffman Auto Group

If you want to nominate yourself or someone else to be part of the Stroke & Caregiver Survivor Virtual Gallery, please read the following details, and then click on the link below share your story!

The American Heart Association has teamed up with Hoffman Auto Group to bring awareness of the risks of stroke by creating a virtual gallery of survivors and caregivers. Three stroke survivors or caregivers will be featured on virtual posters which will be posted on the social media pages of the American Heart Association in Connecticut. Each stroke survivor or caregiver’s story will be detailed on the American Heart Association’s Connecticut Blog.

The focus of the virtual posters will be to bring awareness that stroke is the number one cause of disability and number five killer in the United States. The posters will also be shared on the American Heart Association’s and Hoffman’s social media pages.

To nominate someone, or to share your story, click on the site below by September 29th to be considered. Stroke survivors or caregivers will be selected by a committee comprising of the American Heart Association and Hoffman Auto Group. Those selected will be notified by October 17th.

Click here to share your story or nominate a survivor.



The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, announces Corliss Montesi of Stanley Black and Decker and Mary Anne Cannon of Pratt & Whitney as co-chairs of the 2017 Hartford Heart Walk. The Hartford Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, October 14 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford.

 As co-chairs, Corliss Montesi and Mary Anne Cannon will lead the organizational and recruitment efforts in the greater Hartford area. They will call on thousands of area volunteers, survivors, walkers, and business leaders to step up to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading cause of death in the United States.

“As a volunteer and Connecticut board member, I understand the need for continual support in the fight against heart disease through funding and awareness,” said walk co-chair Corliss Montesi. “Stanley Black and Decker is committed to helping people live healthier lives and by supporting the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk – we are joining together to advance their lifesaving mission of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease while encouraging a culture of physical activity.”

The Hartford Heart Walk will attempt to raise more than $300,000 to fund research and education to fight heart disease and stroke. Each day, nearly 2,400 Americans die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 37 seconds. A leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke is lack of physical activity. Research has found that individuals may gain two hours of life expectancy for every one hour of regular, vigorous exercise they do.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with more than 7,000 deaths in Connecticut each year,” said co-chair Mary Anne Cannon. “I am eager to take on this leadership role and have the opportunity to promote health and wellness to help change these statistics and raise the funds needed to support such a critical cause. Pratt & Whitney has been a strong supporter of the American Heart Association and we are committed to continue our support to advance this lifesaving mission.”

Corliss Montesi is Vice President, Corporate Controller, at Stanley Black & Decker, a worldwide supplier of hand and power tools, industrial equipment, and security solutions. Corliss leads a global organization in all aspects of accounting, controls and trade compliance. A passionate supporter of women and diversity, she is also an Executive Sponsor of the SBD Women’s Network.

Mary Anne Cannon is Pratt & Whitney’s vice president Commercial Programs including the PW4000, PW2000, PW6000, JT9D and JT8D engines and is responsible for developing and managing the product line life-cycle strategies and ensuring customer requirements are met.

To learn more about the Hartford Heart Walk, or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please call Wendy Schrlau at (203) 303-3317 or go to www.hartfordheartwalk.org.



The American Heart Association and the Aetna Foundation have teamed up to build healthier minds and bodies by building Teaching Gardens, together. The American Heart Association is pleased to announce that the Aetna Foundation will sponsor a two-year, multi-phase Teaching Gardens program in Boston and Hartford, Conn.

The program will fund four Teaching Gardens at local schools in both cities between 2017 and 2019, providing materials needed to plant a real-life laboratory with garden-themed lessons in nutrition, math, science, and other subjects.

The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens program encompasses a core belief that when you educate children about nutritional choices, and challenge them to make small changes to improve their health, they will build a foundation of healthy habits – and even use them to empower their families at home. Lifelong habits are created during childhood, and the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens provide a unique experience for elementary school students to gain knowledge of planting seeds, nurturing plants, harvesting produce and ultimately choosing healthier eating habits.

“Our mission is to build a healthier world – one person, one family and one community at a time – and supporting the Teaching Gardens program is one way we are achieving that goal,” said Garth Graham, MD, MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation. “The children who participate don’t only learn about the importance of fresh, healthy food, but often share their knowledge and enthusiasm with their families, helping to improve health in their communities from the ground up.”

The first Teaching Gardens in Hartford will be hosted by Covenant Preparatory School and located on the campus of Jumoke Academy. The planting of the garden will take place on July 21, 2017, and will be led by a Teaching Gardens committee, parents, community leaders, employee volunteers and Aetna staff.

“Our students, parents and faculty are all excited to be participating in the Teaching Gardens program,” said Glenn Winfree, head of Covenant Preparatory School. “We believe that this is a great way to introduce ideas about nutrition to our students in a hands-on way, and also engage the rest of our community in the process.”

The Boston area placement will be at located at Quincy Heights in Dorchester with the planting taking place later this year.

In addition to the eight Teaching Gardens, Aetna will also provide a planting station at the Boston Heart Walk on Sept. 9, 2017, and at the Greater Hartford Heart Walk on Oct. 14, 2017. This will provide families and children the opportunity to interact and experience gardening firsthand. Interactive plantings will also take place at the 2018 Boston and Hartford walks.

“We are thrilled the Aetna Foundation will provide the support necessary to create eight Teaching Gardens and make a difference in the lives of the children in these communities”, said James Devlin, American Heart Association Vice President Founders Affiliate, eastern region. “Research shows the Teaching Gardens dramatically change the way children think about food and consume it, and those who participate in school gardening programs have a greater chance of trying and liking fruits and vegetables. These gardens provided by Aetna can make a lifelong impact on the health of those participating.”

Teaching Gardens can help teach children to learn what it truly means to be healthy; a first step in reversing the obesity epidemic. Enhancing the diets of children is essential – currently, less than one percent of the adult population and nearly no children ages 12-19 are in ideal heart-health, in large part due to the lack of a healthy diet. And if this trend continues, experts predict this generation to be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.

The gardens will not only offer education on nutrition and healthy food choices, they will ultimately help the students be more productive in school. Studies also show that normal weight children have higher scholastic achievement, less absenteeism and higher physical fitness levels than their obese counterparts. In fact, one study suggests that nutritional education, combined with garden-based learning, is more effective than either alone in changing students’ fruit or vegetable intake.

The Teaching Gardens program is part of a larger American Heart Association “Healthy For Good” healthy living initiative, designed to help Americans understand what it means to be healthy, and to take-action.

For more information about the Teaching Gardens program visit www.heart.org/teachinggardens.


Rylan’s Story

My husband, Ray and I were expecting our second child. We were full of excitement and couldn’t wait to introduce our little one to his big brother, Hayden. Hayden was three at the time.

Rylan was born on Monday, October 6th weighing 9lbs – 1 ounce at Waterbury Hospital. He had a 9.9 APGAR (which measures a newborn’s health from 1 – 10, 10 being the best), was pink and crying. He looked like a healthy baby.

I remember wanting to get home as soon as possible so we could be together as a family. We pushed to be released exactly 24 hours after his birth.

Rylan was sent to the nursery for the newborn screening tests and my husband and I packed up our things and were preparing to take him home. We suddenly realized he had been gone for quite a while, so we called the nurse. The pediatrician came into our room and said she could not be sure, but it appeared something could be wrong with Rylan’s heart. He had failed his pulse ox test which looks at the amount of oxygen in his blood. She told us he needed to be rushed to a much bigger hospital for further evaluated.

I was in complete disbelief because he appeared to be so healthy.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) critical care transport team arrived and took Rylan as we followed behind.

My husband and I arrived at CCMC and we were directed to the 3rd floor to the Pediatric Intensive Care unit.

As we walked to Rylan’s room we meet his cardiologist who was preparing him for his first echocardiogram. Ray and I stood waiting and praying that the exam would show nothing. Instead, the doctor told us the news. Rylan would require open heart surgery within the week to correct his many heart defects. On Tuesday, October 7th around 7pm, our lives changed forever. Rylan was born with Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD (a hold in his heart), Transposition of the Great Arteries (his major arteries, the Aorta and Pulmonary arteries, were in switched positions) and double outlet right ventricle, (both major arteries were coming off the same spot of the heart).

We spent the next week preparing for surgery, living in and out of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and parenting our three-year-old son. It was the most difficult, eye opening time for our family.

On Tuesday October 14th at 7:30am the doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists wheeled our one-week old baby into open heart surgery to mend his heart. He came out of surgery around 2pm and we finally saw him around 3pm. He was asleep and peaceful looking despite the many tubes, wires, IVs and monitors attached to his small body.

Over the next week, Ray and I stayed by Rylan’s side sleeping in the family suites attached to the PICU. Once he was weaned off the ventilator, his pace wires were removed along with his central line and he was transferred to the stepdown floor. He quickly regained his strength and began feeding.

Overall, we were in the hospital for three long weeks, until he was discharged. When the time came, it was such an amazing feeling!

The following weeks were filled with doctor’s visits, tests and even at home nurse care. But we were so blessed to have Rylan home and healthy.

Rylan continues to see his cardiologists every six months to monitor his heart and leaky valves. Because his heart was mended and not cured, he will need to continue to have his heart monitored. We don’t know what the future will hold for him, but we are very thankful for everyone who has been involved in his care, who held our hands and wiped away our tears during those very difficult weeks. We are especially thankful for the work and science of the American Heart Association. Without it, many of the procedures and protocols used, might not have been in place to help Rylan.

Rylan is now a very busy, active, mischievous two-and-a-half-year-old. He loves being outside playing with his big brother or his cat, Wing or dog, Kylo.



Combo of smaller meds may just be the dose to lower blood pressure

Combined smaller doses of blood pressure medications may be effective with fewer side effects than standard single doses, according to preliminary research.

In the first review to compare quarter-dose therapy to standard dose and placebo, researchers found that two medications in combination was just as effective as one standard dose of blood pressure-lowering medication. They also found that four medications in combination, each at a quarter dose, was nearly twice as effective as one standard dose.

The side effects from single and dual quarter-dose therapies were about the same as from placebo and much less than from a standard dose of a single antihypertensive medication, researchers said. There was little information on side effects for the quadruple quarter dose therapy.

“Widespread control of blood pressure is generally low, even in high-income countries,” said Anthony Rodgers, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., professor at The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “Because high blood pressure is so common and serious, even small improvements in management can have a large impact on public health.”

Each class of high blood pressure medications has different possible side effects, including weakness, dizziness, insomnia, headache and muscle cramps.

Researchers analyzed and compared results from 42 trials involving 20,284 people with high blood pressure on various doses of medications or taking no medication. The review included many different types of medications from the five main classes of drugs to treat hypertension, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blocker and thiazides.

While low-dose combinations for blood pressure control is promising, there still isn’t enough research to warrant a change in how doctors prescribe blood pressure-lowering therapies and only a few low dose combinations are available, researchers said.

“This new approach to treatment needs more research before it can be recommended more widely,” Rodgers said. “The findings have not yet been tested in large long-term trials. People should not reduce the doses of their current medications.”

The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension