President and CEO of Hawaii Dental Service Mark Yamakawa and cardiologist -at Pali Momi Medical Center- John Kao join Tesia Wednesday morning for American Heart month.

Former board member Dr Kao talks about the importance of American Heart Month...

For more than 50 years, the month of February has been dedicated to raising awareness about health matters related to the heart, specifically heart disease.

About Heart Disease

  • Heart Disease (including Coronary Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Stroke) remains the No.1 cause of death in the US.
  • Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, a percentage that reflects recently updated guidelines for treating high blood pressure. The rise in cardiovascular disease is driven, in part, by changes in the way high blood pressure is defined. In November 2017, the AHA and American College of Cardiology updated the definition of high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80 millimeters of mercury, compared to the previous definition of 140/90.
  • Coronary heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S., claiming the lives of more than 360,000 people a year.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Hawaii; cardiovascular disease and stroke are responsible for almost 4,000 deaths per year. Over 18,000 hospitalizations every year in Hawaii result from cardiovascular disease, accounting for about 22 percent of all Hawaii hospital costs.
  • The good news is that approximately 80 percent of heart disease and stroke cases are preventable through simple lifestyle changes.
  • As a former board member of the American Heart Association – Hawaii Division, it’s very important to educate the public about the risk factors for developing heart disease and ways to prevent it.

Yamakawa talks about the sold out 2019 Heart Ball happening this weekend...

The annual Heart Ball is the American Heart Association’s premier fundraising event for the Hawaii division. It brings together more than 1,000 guests, including leaders from the corporate, philanthropic and medical communities to raise funds in support of American Heart Association’s mission to improve health in Hawaii. As a result, we’re able to implement community outreach programs across that state that promote heart disease and stroke education and awareness.

The American Heart Association’s 2020 goal is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

We asked what are some of the American Heart Association's community outreach programs?
A: The American Heart Association recently partnered with the Hawaii Foodbank and University of Hawaii nutrition students on a highly successful Kokua The Need campaign to create and implement a healthy food drive to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank.

  • Heart Ball executive team members helped to recruit downtown Honolulu office buildings to participate in the healthy food drive. The materials created as guidance on healthier food donations for that drive, are now being used by the Hawaii Foodbank for its food donation campaigns throughout the year.
  • American Heart Association’s staff are working with food banks on Maui and in Hilo to incorporate healthy food drives in the upcoming Heart Walk events in those communities. They too are using the healthy food donation guidelines.
  • The American Heart Association’s Legacy Leaders program, sponsored by Stanford Carr – my fellow Heart Ball co-chair, promotes health education and awareness.
  • Volunteer nursing students from the University of Hawaii-Hilo and HPU offer health education and awareness information to the youth, kapuna and the homeless population in Leeward Oahu Communities - putting potentially life-saving health information into the hands of the populations that don’t always have access to that type of education.
  • Teachings include how to control high blood pressure, stroke awareness and prevention, tobacco prevention, first aid and CPR, nutrition improvement, and other important lessons.
  • Those are just several of the ways that the American Heart Association is really making a positive health impact at the local level.

Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes a heart-healthy diet, is the key to preventing heart disease. Limiting unhealthy fats can help.

Breakfast in particular can be loaded with foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar. And we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What we have here today are some heart-healthy breakfast options that you can eat on the go for those busy and hectic mornings.


Fruit that is fresh, frozen or canned without added sugars can all be healthy choices.

Whole-grain products give you dietary fiber and other beneficial nutrients.

You can make all of your favorite breakfast choices healthier just by using lower-fat or non-fat ingredients.

When choosing a whole-grain cereal, for example, choose non-fat (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk

Breakfast items:

Fruit (apple and banana)

Whole-grain English muffin a little spreadable fruit, jam or soft margarine

Whole-grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese

Whole-grain cereal with non-fat (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk

Low-fat yogurt

Low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese