Health Topics

Health Topics

Learn about an array of health topics which can help you improve your health and quality of life. Click a topic to learn more.



Cholesterol is a fat, wax-like, substance found in the blood stream and your body’s cells. Cholesterol is important to help our body build cells and hormones. It is normal to have cholesterol in our blood. Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause problems and increase your risk for heart attack or stroke. Your cholesterol blood test has several numbers. These numbers include:

Total Cholesterol
This number reflects the total cholesterol value, and includes the HDL and LDL numbers. The goal for total cholesterol is less than 200.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL is also known as ‘good cholesterol’. HDL cholesterol helps transports fats back to the liver to be processed. Higher levels of HDL are ideal as this helps decrease the risk of vascular disease. The overall goal is 50 or greater. The HDL number improves with regular exercise.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
LDL is also known as ‘bad cholesterol’. LDL transports fats and deposits them in the blood vessels. Lower levels of LDL are ideal. LDL levels are improved with regular exercise and healthy diet. The goal for LDL is based on your risk factors. Talk with your health care provider regarding your goals.

Triglycerides are another type of blood fat. The goal for triglycerides is less than 150. This level is easily improved with healthy diet (avoiding saturated fats) and regular exercise.

Watch this video to learn more about cholesterol:


Watch this video to learn more about lifestyle changes to help you manage your cholesterol:


To learn more about fats in your diet please click here and search the topics about the different types of fat and your diet.

To learn more about cholesterol, please click on the following links:



COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes you to have difficulty breathing. With COPD the airways (the tubes in the lungs that air travels through) are damaged and do not work correctly. The airways can be narrow and swollen which makes it difficult for the air to travel through and makes it hard for you to breath. Or the airways can be damaged and cause air to trap in the airway tubes, also causing difficulty breathing. Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema are two different types of COPD that cause these airway problems.

Individuals who have COPD are more likely to get lung infections. It is important you get your pneumonia vaccines and influenza vaccine regularly to help prevent infection. When you have COPD and get a lung infection it is called a COPD Exacerbation. Symptoms of a COPD Exacerbation include coughing more than usual, coughing up more phlegm than normal, and coughing up colored phlegm (a different color than your normal color of phlegm). You may or may not have a fever with a COPD Exacerbation. If you have COPD and are having these symptoms you should call your health care provider.

COPD can be managed with medications, including inhalers or nebulizers. Quitting smoking also helps the lungs and COPD. Regular exercise, such as walking 30 minutes daily, can help improve your lung function.

To learn more about COPD, please click on the following links:

For a COPD Action Plan please click here.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is a build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart. The build-up of plaque in the arteries begins when you are a child. Coronary artery disease is affected by your genetics (family history) and lifestyle. The primary risk factors for coronary artery disease are: high LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and family history of heart disease.

Click here to learn more about heart attack prevention.

Click here to learn more about family history and heart disease.

Click here to learn more about heart health screenings.

Click here to evaluate your risk for heart disease.

Click here to learn more about the Mediterranean diet.

See the handouts below for additional information regarding coronary artery disease:


What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. The blood sugar levels increase because the pancreas is not functioning properly. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps transport sugar from the blood stream into your body’s cells in order to get processed. When you have diabetes your pancreas is not working correctly and your body does not respond to the insulin being produced or the pancreas completely quits producing insulin. When this occurs the blood sugar levels increase.


What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet


What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas quits producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes is less common, approximately 5-10% of individuals have this type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is often autoimmune or genetic.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is also known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin but your body is not responding to the insulin and becomes ‘insulin resistant.’ Type 2 diabetes is the most common, approximately 90-95% of individuals with diabetes have type 2.


How do I manage diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. The rate at which it progresses or worsens is affected by our lifestyle choices and medication treatment. If you are taking prescription medication it is recommended you take it as ordered. You may also be asked to monitor your blood sugars at home and keep a blood sugar log. Blood sugars levels can also be improved with lifestyle changes.

Common lifestyle changes include:

Dietary changes
Following a diabetic diet by decreasing the carbohydrates in your diet will help improve your blood sugars. Carbohydrates are found in most foods, it is recommended you avoid foods high in carbohydrates such as sweets, candies, breads, pastas, grains and cereals.

Regular aerobic exercise is recommended. The goal is to do 150 minutes of mild aerobic activity weekly, such as walking. Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels

Weight Loss
Excess body weight and body fat contributes to poor blood sugar control. Talk with your provider regarding your ideal body weight and weight loss options.

Part of the treatment for diabetes also includes monitoring for health problems and complications as a result of diabetes. Other health problems which can occur because of diabetes and high blood sugars include:

  • Vision loss
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Neuropathy (loss of sensation and numbness/tingling to hands and/or feet)

Your health care provider will talk with you about medication treatments and routine monitoring to help evaluate for and manage complications related to diabetes.

It is also important you get an eye exam done yearly to help evaluate for vision loss or eye damage due to diabetes.


How often will I be seen for an appointment?

Your health care provider will also ask you to come in for routine office visits, typically every 3-6 months to monitor and follow up on your diabetes. The Hemoglobin A1c is a 90-day blood sugar average. This level is monitored regularly to assess your diabetes, and is typically done every 90 days.

To watch a video regarding diabetes, please click here.

To download a blood sugar log, please click here.

For more information regarding diabetes, click on the following links:

To learn more about carbohydrates, please click here.

If you would like more information regarding diabetic diet, please click here.

If you would like additional information regarding diabetes, please click the following links:


Heart Failure

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure (CHF), is a disease in which the heart muscle is not pumping as well as it should. The term heart failure is a bit confusing; it does not mean that the heart is ‘failing’ – it only means that the heart muscle it is not pumping well. When you have heart failure, you can have a build-up of fluid in the body which can lead to swelling in the legs (also known as edema) and shortness of breath.

The heart muscle strength is often measured by an echocardiogram test, which is an ultrasound of the heart. This test measures the ejection fraction (EF). The ejection fraction is a measurement evaluating the heart muscle strength and squeezing ability. There are different types of heart failure. In one type of heart failure, the heart muscle strength is weak and cannot pump well. In this type of heart failure, the ejection fraction measurement is low which means the heart muscle is weak. In other types of heart failure, the heart muscle strength is normal but the muscle is thickened and stiff, which causes problems with the heart’s ability to squeeze and pump.

To learn more about heart failure please click here.

To learn about causes of and risks for heart failure and to watch a video please click here.

Watch the video below to learn more about heart failure:

To learn more about the warning signs of heart failure, click here and to watch a video please click here.

To learn more about diagnosing heart failure, click here and to watch a video please click here.

To learn more about living with heart failure and managing advanced heart failure please click here.

If you have heart failure, please click here to obtain a self-management tool.

For additional information regarding heart failure, please click the following links:

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Managing your blood pressure is important for your health. When your blood pressure is high your heart is required to work harder. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. The blood pressure goal is less than 120/80, if your blood pressure is between 130/80 and 140/90 it is important you work on life style changes to help lower your numbers. If your blood pressure is greater than 140/90 you may need medication to help control it.

Lifestyle changes to improve blood pressure include: quitting smoking, regular exercise and weight loss. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of mild—moderate activity per week, this equate to 30 minutes of walking 5 days per week.

To print a copy of the blood pressure table, click on the following links:

To learn more about what high blood pressure, is click on the following links:

To learn more about how to monitor your blood pressure, click on the following link:

To learn about lifestyle changes to improve blood pressure, click on the following link:

To learn more about a heart healthy diet, please click on the following links:

For more information about blood pressure, click here.

Memory Loss

Brain Health

Brain health is similar to heart health and is important to healthy aging. As you age, we want you to have a healthy body and a healthy brain. Brain health is about caring for the brain and using the strengths of the brain to help keep the brain strong and active as you are aging. Brain health involves living a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, healthy sleep, regular exercise, stress management, and staying mentally and socially active. Certain health problems can also affect the brain health by causing problems with the circulation and blood flow in the brain. These health problems include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and vascular disease, diabetes, and smoking. If you have these health conditions, we want to partner with you to help control them. Also, if you are smoking it is recommended you work on quitting smoking (CDC, 2018).

Occasional forgetfulness can be a normal part of life and aging; it can also be associated with several other causes, including stress, depression, anxiety, and dementia. However, more persistent memory loss, also known as cognitive impairment, is concerning for dementia. When changes in memory become noticeable to you or your loved ones, we encourage you to speak out and talk with your health care provider. Research is showing that if we identify cognitive impairment early on and implement healthy lifestyle changes and control health problems, we can delay the memory loss and possibly dementia (CDC, 2018).

If you have concerns about your memory, please talk with your health care provider.

To learn more about brain health, please click on the following links:

To learn about signs of memory loss and dementia, please click here.

For more information and to see a video on how the brain works please click here.



Dementia is the fifth leading cause of death for older adults and it is the most expensive illness affecting older adults. Dementia is a health condition in which you have difficulty remembering things, typically this includes: a decline in short term memory (difficulty remembering recent events), difficulty with speech and finding words, difficulty solving problems and making decisions, difficulty performing tasks that you normally can do (such as cooking, grocery shopping, banking, playing cards). Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that is irreversible and slowly destroys the memory, thinking, and ability to care for oneself (CDC, 2018).

If you have a loved one with dementia, the following book may be a helpful resource:

  • Creating Moments of Joy, by Jolene Brackey

To learn about tips for communicating with loved ones who have dementia please click here.

For a guide to help you evaluate memory concerns please click here.

Additional Resources for Alzheimer’s Dementia:


Centers for Disease Control, 2018. Healthy Brain Initiative, the 2018-2023 Road Map. Retrieved from

Stop Smoking

If you smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes we encourage you to work on quitting. We understand this can be a difficult process but we want to partner with you to help you be successful with your goal. Below are facts and information regarding tobacco use:

  • Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the US
  • Every year in the US cigarette smoking causes one in five deaths
  • Cigarette smoking can shorten your life expectancy by up to 10 years compared to nonsmokers
  • E-cigarettes have not been shown to be beneficial to help you quit smoking
  • Smokeless tobacco also causes cancer (CDC, 2018)

For tips to help quit smoking please click on the following links:       

To learn more about e-cigarettes please lick on the following link:

For a booklet guide to help you quit smoking please click here.

To learn more about smoking cessation and nicotine addiction please click here.

To learn about how Nebraska can help you quit smoking, click here.



Centers for Disease Control (2018, January 17). Smoking and Tobacco Use. Retrieved from

Weight Loss

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for your overall health. Excess weight contributes to multiple health problems. Some of these health problems include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, and arthritis. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that is used to help determine your ideal (healthy) body weight. The BMI calculation is based on your height and weight. The BMI range for a healthy body weight is 18-24. A BMI of 30 or greater is defined as obesity. If your BMI is above 24, it is recommended to work on lifestyle changes to help with weight loss. This primarily involves lifestyle changes regarding diet and exercise.

There is not a ‘quick fix’ for weight loss. Successful weight loss incorporates lifestyle changes that can be maintained long term. This means finding a way to eat healthy and stay physically active on a regular basis for the rest of your life. There are also several prescription medications to help with weight loss. These prescription medications are most successful when combined with lifestyle changes. If you are ready to lose weight you can begin with some of the diet and exercise suggestions listed below. Also, talk with your health care provider for additional recommendations to help you with your goals. We want to partner with you to help you become the healthiest version of you.

To calculate your BMI, click here.

For additional tips and resources for weight loss please click on the following links:

For additional information regarding weight loss please click on the following links:

For additional information about managing extreme obesity, please click here.



Healthy Lifestyle

A health lifestyle involves several aspects of your life and health. A healthy lifestyle is about living a balanced life and includes exercise, healthy diet, mental health and well-being, healthy sleep, and stress management.

To learn more about a healthy lifestyle click here.



Regular exercise is part of living a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and moving your body are important for individuals of all ages. Exercise is beneficial for your heart health, brain health, circulation, blood pressure, muscle strength, and mental health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity exercise (such as a brisk walk) or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous exercise (such as running). We believe exercise is an important part of living a healthy life and we want to work with you to help you develop an exercise program that works for you. If you have questions or concerns about starting an exercise program please talk with your health care provider. Below is more information about exercise.

To learn more about exercise outdoors during warm or cold weather please click on the following links:

To learn more about exercise please click on the following:

To learn more about exercise for children, please click the following:

To learn more information about exercise please click on the following links:


Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is another part of living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet is a balanced diet with a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, healthy grains and proteins. These foods are not only good for you but they also taste good and are enjoyable. We want you to learn about healthy food choices and options to help you and your family live your healthiest life possible.

Please review the following information about healthy food choices. The American Heart Association is an excellent source of information about healthy diets. Feel free to look around their website to learn more about healthy foods.

Mental Health & Well-Being

Mental health and well-being are very important to our overall health. This includes our physical, emotional, psychological health, social health and well-being. Your mental health and well-being can affect your mood, your relationships and how you communicate with others. It can also affect our decisions and how we handle stress. The goal is to have a healthy body and a healthy mind. Mental health and well-being can be developed and enhanced through several ways including: practicing gratitude and thankfulness, positive thinking, meditation, quiet time, religion, spirituality, and rest. You ask your mind and body to do a lot of work on a daily basis, it is also important to take time to rest and restore. Mental health and well-being are important for you to live your healthiest life. We encourage you to take time for rest and restoration!

To learn more about mental health and well-being, please click on the following links:

A few smart phone apps recommended for guided meditation include:

  • Insight Timer
  • Calm

Better Sleep

Good sleep is important for your overall health. Your body and mind are restored with sleep. It is recommended you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establishing a regular bedtime routine will help you get better sleep. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed will also help improve your sleep. Technology and screens can interfere with our sleep also, it is recommended to avoid ‘screens’ before bed, this includes phones, TVs, iPads, and Kindles.

For tips regarding better sleep please click here.

To learn more about healthy sleep please click on the following links:

To learn more about napping please click here.

To learn more about a healthy bedtime routine please click here.


Stress Management

Managing stress is also an important part to living a healthy lifestyle. We all experience stress every day, no matter your age. Stress can come from many things including work, school, family, friends, finances, and health problems. High stress and chronic stress can also contribute to health problems, including fatigue, poor sleep, heart disease, depression and anxiety. Learning healthy ways to manage stress can help you feel better and improve your overall health and well-being. If stress is causing you to feel poorly or causing health problems please talk with your health care provider. We want to work with you to help you manage stress and live a healthy life.

To learn more about stress management please view the following information: