Thursday, April 23, 2009

What is your Vascular Age?


How old are you…really..? Do you know? Your ‘Vascular Age’ is the number which truly counts and you need to have a CIMT to find out what that is. Fortunately, there is a simple, painless, non-invasive procedure to determine that age. But it isn’t free!

CIMT* – or Carotid Intima Media Thickness provides a direct measurement of vascular disease, if any, even at its earliest stage before it causes any symptoms or starts to block blood flow. This is done via a quick, painless ultrasound of the carotid arteries (along your neck) and usually takes place in a Drs’ office, a medical lab, or other clinical setting. This is a look at the inner lining of your artery to determine atherosclerotic plaque accumulation. The carotid artery is a good indicator of what your other arteries look like.
Previously, the best/only way to determine your/my risk for heart disease/stroke was to assess the risk factors – family history, history of smoking, obesity, poor diet, exercise, cholesterol. Possibly you were put on medication if one or more of these were out of line. i.e. – high cholesterol. Relying on these factors as a determinate of future events is no longer recommended in light of current technology.
CIMT screening reveals the effect any of these risk factors may or may not be having on the health of your arteries and heart. That’s the important information. Not do I have a history? But is that history having an impact, taking root, causing damage, aging me prematurely, making me older than I am, causing me to have heart damage that I’m not feeling or of which I’m unaware? These are the important questions.
By the time we feel the effects of heart disease, the damage has already been occurring. Knowing about it in advance, gives one time to make those lifestyle changes or time to take the cholesterol medication that is being considered, or both.

Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women. It is preventable or at least manageable if you have all the information.

Right now, most insurance companies are not covering CIMT! Don’t you love it? It is considered ‘preventative screening.’ Now my argument to the insurance company would be: certainly it would be less costly in the long run to pay for a test now to screen for and ultimately prevent onset of potential heart disease, than to treat me later if I develop full blown Coronary Artery Disease… but that is a different blog post.
The cost for my CIMT was $125. I paid cash, as was required by the company, which is ‘Midwest Imaging.’ Midwest Imaging visits my Drs. Office once a month and that’s where I had mine. If you are in the Cincinnati area you can call them directly and find out their testing locations. A Drs. order is not required to have a CIMT, but you will want to share the results with your physician. If not in Cincinnati, check with your physician or Google CIMT and the name of your town.
The results, which took several weeks to receive, are quite detailed and quite fascinating. You will learn your ‘Vascular age’ as compared to others of your race, age, gender, as well as your risk for a heart attack in the next 10 years. (Given in a percentage)
CIMT is not the only ‘preventative screening’ test out there for heart disease, but is considered to be the best option. There is no x-ray radiation with an ultrasound. CIMT gives more information about the effects within the artery itself.
The other significant test being utilized is a ‘CT for Coronary Calcium’ which gives a numerical risk for heart event based on the amount of calcium in the arteries of the heart. It is a CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography) of the heart and therefore x-ray radiation is utilized . Of course, many times, CAT scans are needed and valuable tools, and I don’t concern myself with the radiation of the CT when medically warranted. But my Dr. felt that for NO RADIATION we gain more information about my arteries by having this ultrasound CIMT. Other independent data supports her on this – more information gained at no pain, or risk by having the CIMT. The calcium score with the CT scan is not the whole story of the artery, but the ultrasound CIMT could detect plaque and well as determine wall thickness from aging, to tell a more complete story of your arteries, or mine!

*CIMT recommend for all those over the age of 40 regardless of presence of heart symptoms or history of heart disease.
I have no affiliation with any company or entity providing CIMT testing

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pansies on Fountain Square

Here are some more photos we took while visiting downtown Cincinnati on Saturday. I don't pretend to be a professional photographer or anything, but at least on my screen these look pretty good. Remember you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it. My sister, Sue, enjoyed the tulips enough to want them as her desktop background. You have my permission to do the same if you wish. Right click on any photo and select 'make this my background' and that will happen!

These photos were taken from a display on Fountain Square. The best vantage point for the display was actually aerial, as was shown on the local news. In lieu of that capability we stood on our tip toes...

A few years ago (2) Cincinnati went to great time, labor, and expense mostly, to move the 'Tyler Davidson Fountain' in our main square. They moved it, mmmm, a good 10yards, but seemed to feel that would totally renovate our downtown Fountain Square. I'm not certain it really looks that different, but I will say they've done a lot to utilize the new 'more functional' space. They've certainly held more functions there, so maybe they were right. In any case, the square is being used and utilized in a positive way. There is always something going on there at least most of the year. Plus, a giant screen TV where baseball games as well as political events are broadcast. Really, they're on the right track. We enjoyed it this day!

I grant permission to use photos from my website for noncommercial, personal use only.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Tulips

Easter is no time for argument.
Lilies don't argue; they bloom.
Springtime doesn't argue; it comes.
Music doesn't argue; it sings.
Beauty doesn't argue; it beckons and points.
Love doesn't argue; it outlives our griefs.
~Frederick B. Speakman~

Our son is home from college and we took some time yesterday to enjoy the beauty outside and be together. The above shot was one of many we took around town. This one is from a garden in downtown Cincinnati. It’s great to have Eliot home, nothing has changed yet everything has. He is growing up too soon and not soon enough. Maybe if you’re the parent of a college age (boy) you understand what I mean by that? Anyway, it’s great to have him home and I hate to see him have to go back to New York tomorrow. Of course, he can’t wait to get back to school, friends, and NY life. And I can’t blame him.
I’ll have no Sunday dinner recipes to share this week, we are dining out with the whole family for Easter as we do every year. I hope you have a great Easter and great week.
There is something so special about this time of year…. I claim not to have a favorite season but love how there is so much promise in the air right now. It’s in the blooms we are seeing on branches and in gardens and as the skies change and the air smells different, it’s Spring. It smells fresh. The message to me, of Spring, is the message of Easter~~ one of hope, renewal, promise….. Maybe I do have a favorite season after all!

Hey FYI!!! - You are able to click on any photo in the blog to enlarge it for better viewing! I didn't know either. These tulips look great enlarged.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whipped Butternut Squash

I realized I really didn't quote my source for this great recipe so I want to add this in. This recipe if I'd used the correct type squash is a direct copy of a recipe I read off the website. (that's not a typo. no 'e' in kitchen)but I made it from memory, I couldn't find the recipe or remember where I got it at the time I made it and wrote the blog entry. Just got an RSS feed update from them today and remembered that's where it came from. Great website, please check them out!

Well this might not be a summer favorite, but since it's looking like winter in Cincinnati today, (snow flurries, mid thirties, should be mid sixties!), I'll once again share what I fixed for family dinner on Sunday. Whipped Butternut Squash was the side dish. Actually it was more of a 'tasting,' there were 15 of us here this week. I didn't do too great on my recipe multiplication this time!! But we had plenty of the other items to fill in. So back to the squash, it's a compilation of a few recipes and a mistake! I really meant to make spaghetti squash and bought the wrong kind, twice! I don't know what I was thinking. I'm not good at identifying trees, flowers, plants, or squash varieties apparently.... So we went with the butternut, and it worked! Amen!
The secret ingredient and one worth noting for future reference is the roasted sage. Fresh sage when roasted is *the*most*heavenly*thing*... and worthy of finding other recipes for its use. I roasted more than I anticipated needing for this dish.
So I used the meat of two Butternut Squash. How you cook the squash is up to you. Many choices, It can be microwaved or roasted in the oven. I cut mine in half lengthwise, put olive oil on the cut sides, put cut sides down on a baking dish and roasted in a 375 degree oven for an hour. Test to be certain it is fully cooked/tender on inside, if so, let cool enough to handle. Remove and discard seeds and pulp, peel from skin. (I just take a large spoon and scoop it out of the shell)

Here is the ingredient list:
2 Butternut squash, roasted.
2 T. roasted Sage*, chopped
3/4 C Ricotta Cheese (low fat is a great idea)
Pine nuts (I toast mine in advance)
Grated Parmesan (not the kind in the green can)
Some heavy cream or butter, just small amount
Salt and Pepper (kosher salt, fresh grd pepper)

After roasting and removing the squash from the peel, place the squash in a mixing bowl, whip with a hand mixer. Add ricotta cheese, some cream and butter, S&P to taste, whip to desired consistency. Stir in (by hand) the sage, top with pine nuts and grated parmesan. Enjoy!!
Could drizzle with truffle oil and just be in heaven! Really.

*Roasting sage=slight amount of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place the fresh sage leaves in the oil and lightly cook until just slightly browned. Watch very carefully. May turn once while cooking. Remove from heat immediately and place on a paper towel lined plate to cool. Blot off before chopping.

So, Betsy, what else did you serve with that squash? Well, it really doesn't matter because that was the best part, but thanks for asking.
But I'm pretty happy with the Stuffed Red and Yellow Peppers also. I made those by request of my beautiful niece Shelby. She asked for them, so I was going to make them. But I never eat stuffed peppers because I've only been served them in the Green Pepper variety and I have to say those aren't my favorite vegetable, despite my love affair with the color green..... So I explored recipes and decided to stuff the yellow and red variety. Again, I combined 2 or 3 recipes...even though I've never made, and rarely eaten, stuffed peppers I just went ahead and experimented right there on my family. I mean, that's what they're for, right?! (That's okay they don't read this.)
So the peppers were stuffed with a combo of beef, pork, rice and chopped up onion and mushrooms, all pre-cooked. The best thing I did was pre-broil the peppers before stuffing them, I didn't want them to be too raw and I knew my meat was already cooked and wouldn't take long in the oven.... I topped everything with chopped (canned) tomatoes mixed with tomato sauce, feta cheese, and bread crumbs mixed with parmesan. You can let me know if you want that recipe. Most people liked the stuffed peppers, some people reallllly liked them. And a person or two didn't care for them, because they don't like stuffed peppers, not that MINE weren't good. (Sorry T., I'll have something you like next time, I promise, please come again.)
So, all in all, it was a good meal. We also had salad and rolls, and a good turnout of people, which is what it's about!! The peeps! (not the Easter peeps, the people 'peeps'!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brussels Sprouts

I'm particularly fond of green and particularly fond of Brussels Sprouts! No long blog today, just this photo! Happy April 1st! It's greening up outside too.
Coming soon: the photo and how-to for the brussels sprouts which I dream about and prepare several times a week! A favorite. I didn't start eating brussels sprouts till about two years ago so I guess I'm making up for lost time. In the meantime, lets just enjoy their beauty....