News From Our Blog

Love and care for your heart

Your heart is the engine of your body. And even though you might think it’s working normally, this major organ requires special care and attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 600,000 people in the United States die each year from heart disease. The CDC also reports that a quarter of Hispanics have high blood pressure.

There are many types of heart complications, but one of the most common is coronary heart disease.

What is coronary heart disease and what are the causes?

This illness — called atherosclerosis — happens when plaque forms in the artery walls, restricting normal blood flow through the body. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and other substances.

There are many risks factors causing coronary heart diseases, some related to your lifestyle or medical conditions, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking, among others

Health consequences

When a clogged artery restricts your flow of blood, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Chest pains
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias
  • Heart failure, or even a heart attack

Prevention and treatment

To reduce the risk of getting these or other heart diseases, take your blood pressure every six months and go over the results with your doctor. It’s also a good idea to eat well, exercise and not smoke.

Along with a balanced diet and exercise regimen, your physician may also prescribe medication to treat heart disease. If your condition is more advanced, bypass surgery may be needed to allow the blood to return to its normal flow.

Stay informed

Million Hearts is a national initiative where you can find information about heart disease. It also offers the opportunity to help prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

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How to avoid scams that appear to be from the government

Every day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives numerous complaints from people who have been scammed.

Some of these complaints are from people who are encouraged to reveal information about their salary, benefits, tax rebate, or bank information.

In order to get this information, the criminals pose as Federal government representatives and make fake letters, e-mails, phone calls or websites that look real and official.

Protect yourself from scammers by following these recommendations:

Be wary of suspicious calls. Don’t reveal personal information like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers to people who call and tell you they work for the government. No government agency will ever call you out of the blue and ask for personal data.

Sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketers from contacting you.

Don’t pay money when applying for a free scholarship or grant. Government agencies will not ask for money upfront to process any grants or subsidies. These transactions are free and only official government agencies provide federal scholarships or grants.

Don’t believe false job offers. Many scammers use websites that look like they’re associated with the government to post jobs and offer guaranteed employment in exchange for money. Do not send money or reveal personal and confidential information to people who hand out brochures or study materials for job placement exams. Job applications in all government departments are free.

File a complaint

If you have been scammed or you suspect someone is committing fraud, register a complaint or get in touch with the FTC at 1-877-382-4357.

When filing a complaint you may be asked for the following information:

  • Date, time and phone number of the call you received
  • Name, website or email address of the organization that contacted you
  • The amount of money and form of payment that the scammer requested
  • Other pertinent details and information

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How to Prepare Holiday Meals Safely

For many families, preparing a grand meal is a tradition they look forward to during the holidays, but it’s no fun if someone gets food poisoning.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people in the United States get sick each year from eating contaminated foods.

You can avoid foodborne illness by following these tips:

1. When buying food:

  • Choose fresh items and check the expiration date for everything you buy.
  • Foods that need to be refrigerated, such as meat, eggs and milk, should be the last things you buy at the store.
  • Place meats (chicken, fish, pork and beef) in a separate bag. The liquids that spill out of these items can contaminate fruits, vegetables and other food in the refrigerator.
  • If you’ll be driving for more than an hour after you go to the supermarket, take a cooler to store the items that need refrigeration.

2. When handling food:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling any food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with a brush to remove any dirt or soil residue.
  • Do not wash meats before cooking. This could cause bacteria to contaminate your sink and other kitchen surfaces.
  • Defrost meats in the refrigerator or microwave. Defrosting them at room temperature can cause bacteria to multiply.
  • Wash the knife and cutting board that were used to prepare meat before using them on other food items to avoid contamination.

3. When cooking food:

  • Cook meats after defrosting them. Don’t leave them out of the refrigerator for too long.
  • Make sure the meats are cooked well inside and out. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • Don’t put freshly cooked items next to raw foods.
  • When cooking meat, do so all at once. Avoid partially cooking meat and refrigerating it with the intention of completing the cooking process later.

4. When storing food:

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Tips for Saving Energy During the Winter

In the winter, when many people turn on their heaters and put up holiday lights, gas and electric bills can be much higher than usual.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), a family spends more than $1,900 a year on electricity bills and other utilities. A big part of those costs come from wasted energy during those cold months.

However, you can save on winter energy costs if you make some changes in certain areas of your home.

Lighting

Improve the lighting in your home and save energy.

  • Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last between six and 12 times longer. Remember to turn off any lights that aren’t in use.
  • Consider using LED lights for Christmas decorations. These use 90 percent less energy than the standard Christmas lights.

Thermostats and heating

Keep your home warm and comfortable.

  • Install a programmable thermostat for your home’s heating system.
  • Keep the doors and windows closed while the heat is on.
  • Frequently change the filters in your furnace.
  • Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

General tips

Be energy efficient throughout your home.

  • Only use the exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathrooms when necessary.
  • Repair any water leaks in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc.
  • Use power strips to plug in portable heaters, television and cell phone chargers. That way, you can turn off the power switch when the devices are not in use.
  • If you’re thinking of replacing your appliances, make sure they have an Energy Star logo. Energy Star products are more energy efficient.

Programs for low-income families

During the winter, the government helps low-income families with their energy bills.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps families pay some of their heating costs. To see if you qualify for these benefits, contact your local LIHEAP office for more information.

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How to Identify a Gambling Addiction

For many people, buying lottery tickets, betting on horses, playing cards for money or feeding slot machines is nothing more than a fun pastime.

But for some people, gambling games can become an uncontrollable and necessary part of life. In these cases, the need to gamble can turn into an addiction known clinically as pathological gambling. The key to overcoming gambling addiction is to identify the problem and find help.

Recognize the symptoms

You might have a gambling problem if you have the following symptoms:

  • You gamble because you’re bored or alone.
  • You constantly think about gambling, and you want to play to win money.
  • You want to gamble more, and you dedicate more time to gambling than anything else in your life.
  • You spend most of your money, and you have trouble paying your bills.
  • You feel guilty after gambling, but you don’t stop doing it.
  • You lie to your friends about your habit because you feel embarrassed by it.
  • Gambling interferes with your work, and it causes problems with family and friends.  

Look for help

If not treated, a gambling addiction can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.

If you think you have a problem, reach out to a trusted family member or friend, and seek help from a therapist. You can also attend recovery programs that offer group sessions or individual treatment.

There are nonprofit organizations that specialize in helping people with their gambling problem. Gamblers Anonymous and the National Council on Problem Gambling are good resources and have hotlines all over the United States. If you need immediate help, you can call the national hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-522-4700.

Read this post in Spanish.