College Hour on heart health


General Mills claims eating Cheerios in a low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet may reduce risk of heart attack.

Lena DoBynes and Lena DoBynes

February is heart health awareness month and college nurse Pam Whipple will be talking to students and staff about the importance of maintaining a healthy heart as well as simple ways people can improve their heart’s health.

Topics such as the makeup of the heart and how it functions, nutrition, activities and other health habits that affect the heart will be discussed during the college hour at 12:15p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 in Raef Hall 160.

“Specific things to do – increasing physical activity and decreasing or quitting smoking – can be done right here on campus,” said Whipple.

Whipple has been a nurse for 26 years and at American River College since last fall.

This event, like any college hour, is open for everyone on campus and Christina Wagner, a staff resource center assistant, encourages everyone to attend.

“We throw something out there every week for the students that they might be interested in and could possibly tie in to specific courses they are taking,” said Wagner.

“This is a chance to learn something new so that you can go home and share it at the dinner table.”

Whipple feels that heart health is something to be concerned about at any age.

“Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death for Americans, and there are things you can do to decrease your risk,” she said.

Aside from decreasing smoking and increasing physical activity, Whipple suggests ideas like bringing home made lunches and snacks instead of going to the cafe everyday.

Eating foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and even a moderate amount of flavanol-rich dark chocolate, while taking foods out of your diet that are high in salt, cholesterol, and saturated and trans fat such as red meat, deep-fried fast foods and processed foods can help in maintaining a healthy heart.

One should also limit the amount of alcohol they consume and maintain a healthy weight.

Regular screening of blood and cholesterol levels is also a way to make sure one’s heart is healthy.
“You are never too young or too old to start strong health habits,” said Whipple.