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Happy American Heart Month

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Allied Universal Heart ImageEach February, the American Heart Association marks the month dedicated to love as the time to call attention to heart health. Although the iconic romantic symbol of a heart bears no resemblance to the physical organ that pumps blood to human tissue, the association is obvious: we should do whatever it takes to help loved ones stay healthy. And to that end, heart disease prevention is paramount.

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can lead to a heart attack. Here are some of the most common types of heart conditions:

  • Aortic Aneurysm – a bulge in a section of theaorta, the body’s main artery. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Because the section with the aneurysm is overstretched and weak, it can burst. If the aorta bursts, it can cause serious bleeding that can quickly lead to death.
  • Atrial Fibrillation – often called AFib or AF, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. When a person has AFib, the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart (the two atria) is irregular, and blood doesn’t flow as well as it should from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (the two ventricles). AFib may occur in brief episodes, or it may be a permanent condition.
  • Cardiomyopathy – The normal muscle in the heart can thicken, stiffen, thin out, or fill with substances the body produces that do not belong in the heart muscle. As a result, the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood is reduced, which can lead to irregular heartbeats, the backup of blood into the lungs or rest of the body, and heart failure.
  • Congestive Heart Failure – Does not mean theheart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart’s pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs.
  • Coronary Artery Disease – This happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.
  • Heart Attack – This happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.
  • High Blood Pressure – A common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures. Sometimes called “the silent killer,” uncontrolled high blood pressure (HBP) can injure or kill because HBP has no symptoms. So victims may not be aware that their arteries, heart and other organs are being damaged.Allied Universal BP
  • Pulmonary Hypertension – High blood pressure that occurs in the arteries in the lungs. It is a different measurement altogether from systemic blood pressure, reflecting the pressure the heart must exert to pump blood from the heart through the arteries of the lungs.
  • Stroke – A stroke is a “brain attack,” which can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

The best way to prepare yourself and loved ones to handle heart-related health problems is to take care of yourself:Allied Universal Weight Mngmt

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest discomfort (It usually lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and returns. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body

Allied Universal FAST StrokeFAST (Stroke Symptoms)

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the victim unable to speak, or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1– If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get him or her to the hospital immediately.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

  • Loss of responsiveness
  • Loss of normal breathing

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just during Heart Health Month. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Men’s Health Month

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

portrait of doctor in white coat and stethoscope Each June, you likely celebrate Father’s Day with relatives and friends. But did you know that June is also the time to officially focus on men’s health? Men’ reports that:

“The purpose of the (annual campaign) is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” What’s more, “The month-long celebration gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.”

Top 10 health risks for men:

  1. Heart Disease –The American Heart Association says that more than one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease.And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009 (which is one in every four adult male deaths).homme d'age mur entrain de courir en bord de mer
  2. Cancer (Malignant Neoplasms) – The American Cancer Society reports that the types of cancer affecting men are cancers of the prostate, colon, lung and skin.
  3. Stroke (Cerebral Diseases) – Although strokes are more likely to occur in men over age 65, they can happen at any age. And strokes are more likely to be fatal and strike earlier in men than in women.
  4. Injuries (Unintentional Accidents) – Men and women are more likely to encounter everyday accidents that lead to death than something catastrophic, which we covered in last week’s blog post about National Safety Month. Since 49.1 percent of the U.S. population is made up of men, it stands to reason they should take steps to avoid injury and #BeSafe.
  5. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases – The causes of the chronic respiratory diseases are well known: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, pollution, allergens, occupational agents, age and hereditary. While not all are preventable, men and women should take steps to rectify those that are.
  6. Blood Sugar Abnormalities (Diabetes) – The American Diabetes Association says that the fear of receiving bad news is the number one reason men don’t typically talk about or take better care of their health. If you are a man, take heed, or if you love one, encourage him to visit his doctor since many diseases, including Diabetes, need not be fatal, if caught and treated early on.
  7. Influenza & Pneumonia – Influenza and Pneumonia are a leading cause of death in the U.S., although both could easily be prevented by a vaccination, say officials from the American Lung Association.
  8. Suicide (Intentional Self-Harm) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that, for many years, the suicide rate has been about four times higher among men than among women. If you know someone who needs assistance, connect him with a support network, such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

  9. Chronic Liver Disease (Cirrhosis) – A doctor’s appointment is immediately necessary for anyone who has persistent signs or symptoms that could be related to liver disease. See a complete list of symptoms on the Mayo Clinic Liver Disease webpage.
  10. Kidney Disease (Nephritis) – The National Kidney Disease Foundation reports that more than 26 million American adults are living with kidney disease. Further, most don’t know they are affected. To see a comprehensive list of warning signs, visit the National Kidney Foundation website.

For more information about men’s health, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

Visit to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

May is National Fitness & Sports Month

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Physical FitnessDespite what we know about the benefits of physical fitness relative to health, weight, longevity and emotional well-being, as a nation, on average, we remain alarmingly sedentary. To call attention to the situation, and in an effort to affect change, the President’s Council has named May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

As far as physical fitness, these statistics released by Fitness.Gov demonstrate the need for improvement: 

  • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • More than 80% of adolescents do not get enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
  • Nationwide, 25.6% of persons with a disability reported being physically inactive during a usual week.
  • Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
  • Only six states require physical education in every grade, K-12.
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for three or more hours on an average school day.
  • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer).

Physical Fitness 2For those who remain unconvinced, there is ample evidence that exercise drastically improves physical health for people of all ages. Here are five ways physical activity can vastly improve lives:

  1. Improve muscular fitness and bone and heart health.
  2. Lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
  3. Reduce the risk of falls and improve cognitive functioning (like learning and judgment skills).
  4. Control weight – Not only does physical fitness burn calories, but muscle burns more calories than fat. So modest strength training and cardio affect weight. And maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) reduces a myriad of health issues.
  5. Improve – The CDC maintains that regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.

Physical Fitness 6What to do

Instead of being overwhelmed, take simple steps to improve physical fitness and overall health:

  • Start slowly and build gradually so you won’t abandon an overly ambitious workout routine.
  • Make small changes, like taking a walk after dinner, parking far away instead of fighting for a spot close to your destination or riding a bike.
  • WebMD reports that inexpensive, easy-to-use pedometers are proven to motivate people to move more and sit less.
  • Drink water before and after you exercise, even if you aren’t thirsty. Drink a cup of water every 15 minutes during your workout, as well.
  • To prevent soreness and injury and increase flexibility, stretch for five to 10 minutes after workouts, when body temperature and muscles are warm, and hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

For more information about Physical Fitness & Sports, check out the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to begin or maintain a regular physical fitness routine for optimal health. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

March is National Nutrition Month

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

nutrition fitnessIn our ongoing effort to encourage subscribers and friends to be safe and healthy, we want to call attention to an important way to #BeSafe – through healthy nutrition. What better time to cover the topic than in March, which is National Nutrition Month? With the campaign slogan, “Take a bite out of a healthy lifestyle,” National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information program spearheaded annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

According to, the campaign focuses on “encouraging people to make sound eating and physical activity habits, which include consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.”

In recent years, health crises relative to lifestyles in the United States have reached epidemic proportions. Here are a handful of examples:

  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report the leading cause of death in the nation is heart disease. In fact, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–which is one in every four deaths. Most experts agree that the majority of heart problems stem from physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
  • More than one third of adult Americans are obese. Some economists estimate that obesity related costs account for more than 20 percent of total U.S. Healthcare expenditures and lead to dozens of serious, associated health problems.
  • Cancer continues to exact a heavy toll on Americans, causing in excess of 600,000 deaths annually. Understandably, the disease ranks highly among health challenges that face the U.S. Although cancer is not entirely attributable to lifestyle choices, there is evidence to support the reduced risk of certain types of cancer with healthy lifestyle choices—such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Sometimes related to obesity, but certainly not exclusively attributable to it, diabetes currently affects 25 million diagnosed Americans (and likely millions more, who have yet to be diagnosed). A group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both, diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death. Fortunately, people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications through several means, including (but not limited) to lifestyle choices.

food_&_nutritionFew would argue that it’s wise to make healthy choices. But just what should those choices be? After all; there are virtually limitless opinions on the subject…many of which are contradictory. While some experts recommend whole grains and low fat dairy, others insist the answer lies in following a grain/dairy and legume-free Paleo diet or nearly the opposite – a meat-free and grain and legume-heavy Vegan diet.

And while some fitness gurus suggest running as the ticket to stay fit, others say that running is tantamount to suicide and that, instead, a mere 20 minutes of modest cardio a day will do the trick. With all of the conflicting information, no wonder so many decide to chuck it all and stay home watching TV and ordering a pizza! But just that sort of reaction is the root of our national problem.

So what is the answer? While this is not the definitive list, the following five suggestions should help get you on the right track. Little changes over time will result in big results. So use the month of March to get healthy!

  1. Stretch. Newton’s Law of Inertia still applies. Objects at rest stay at rest, while objects in motion stay in motion. So move your body.
  2. Move more. Once you have started to get your blood flowing on a regular basis, challenge yourself by introducing some basic exercise routines or lifting modest weights. If you are new to exercise, take advantage of introductory free trials at nearby gyms, which usually offer free fitness assessments. If your budget can’t handle gym fees, start by walking around your neighborhood, gradually increasing the duration and speed until you are taking 10,000 steps a day. Pedometers, which count steps, are inexpensive and readily available.
  3. Eat right. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of several vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, explains why: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health.”

    nutrition 4

  5. Limit sugar and salt intake. While the debate rages about whether it is healthier to eat lots of animal protein or eliminate that source of food altogether, dieticians and nutritionists agree that sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. And too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. So consume sugar and salt in moderation.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to eat right and be active in order to stay healthy. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.