We are bombarded with messages about heart health these days – on the TV, on radio, on billboards. But are they the right messages? Maybe not.
“There’s a lot of mixed information in today’s environment,” says Terence Lin, M.D., a cardiologist with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Fremont. “People get obsessed with fad diets, drinking coconut water, taking fish oil. But these things are not as influential as people think.”
Dr. Lin has seen young, trim software engineers who go to the gym regularly, but don’t know that the all-nighters they pull on an important project, fueled by six cups of coffee, is undermining their heart health.
He has seen well-educated professionals in their 50s take supplements to lower their cholesterol, but turn down statin medications or avoid the dietary changes that could really make a difference.
Advertising and fads can overwhelm good health sense, Dr. Lin says. He tries to keep his tips simple and very specific.
Burn as Many Calories as You Eat
“If you eat 2,000 calories a day, make sure you burn 2,000 calories a day,” Dr. Lin says. That means getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week. Swim, spin or walk briskly. At a brisk pace, you can speak a sentence, but you don’t have enough breath to speak a paragraph or to sing. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to burn more calories than you eat. Read More about The Truth About Heart Health
This is the time of year we all resolve to lose weight, exercise more or become better parents. In short, this is the time of year we all want to be perfect. But before you set your New Year’s resolution bar too high, take a minute to consider the perils of perfectionism.
Perfectionists deal with chronic stress from trying to fulfill nearly impossible expectations in every area of their life, says Ronesh (Ron) Sinha, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. As a result, they’re susceptible to psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.
What’s the difference between perfectionism and “healthy striving” that helps you achieve your goals? People who strive and fail learn from their experiences and move on. A perfectionist, on the other hand, feels shame from missing the goal, and may never try again.
Health Consequences of Perfectionism
Dr. Sinha was inspired to consider the health consequences of perfectionism after watching Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, give a TED talk on the power of vulnerability. He has these words of advice for those who want to be perfect.
“When it comes to achieving health goals, individuals who are perfectionists often fail,” Dr. Sinha says. “For example, to lose weight, they might set a near impossible goal to eat a highly restrictive diet and exercise hard five days a week. Inevitably the realities of life settle in, and they fall into old patterns and don’t reach their goals.”
A perfectionist may view falling off their diet plan as a personal failure, and give up on healthy eating and regular exercise. Worse, chronic stress from a perfectionist approach to weight loss can result in rebound binge eating. Any form of stress makes us crave unhealthy foods typically loaded with sugar and excess carbohydrates. Read More about The Perils of Perfectionism
The holiday season – it’s the most delicious time of the year! But it can also bring lots of extra sugar, fat and calories. A study by researchers at Texas Tech University found that participants gained an average of 1.7 pounds between mid-November and early January – more than half the average adult’s annual weight gain.
“Sharing traditional holidays foods with family and friends can be one of the most pleasurable parts of the holiday season,” says Andrea Lerios, a registered dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. But you don’t have to sacrifice your waistline. “By using a few simple strategies, it is possible to enjoy your favorite holiday foods without overindulging.”
Follow these seven tips from Lerios for healthy holiday eating:
Read More about Healthy Holiday Eating
The holidays are supposed to be filled with peace and joy. But for people struggling with chronic pain, this time of year can be especially challenging.
Stress, free-flowing alcohol and pain medication can increase the risk of abuse and send people to the ER during the holidays. Painkiller abuse is a growing problem, and one that takes many people by surprise.
“Many people don’t realize they can become dependent on painkillers,” says Bruce Hill, LCSW, a psychotherapist who counsels people with substance problems at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. He often hears, “How can this be? I was just taking this for pain and my doctor prescribed it!” Read More about The Painkiller Problem
A diagnosis of prediabetes means that your blood glucose levels are higher than normal – putting you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The good news is there are simple things you can do to decrease that risk.
“The key is to make small, simple changes – but make them permanent,” says Dr. Mehta. “Incorporate change that is sustainable in your everyday life so that you can live an improved, healthier lifestyle and not go back to your old ways.”
Heart disease is the leading killer for both men and women in the United States. For years, doctors have monitored patients’ heart health through cholesterol levels, assessed through a simple blood test. They usually prescribed statins (a medication to lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk) when “bad” LDL cholesterol levels were higher than 160 mg/dL.
The new guidelines call for doctors to use an online cardiovascular risk calculator, which includes factors such as race, gender, age and heart disease risk factors beyond cholesterol numbers. The guidelines list four groups of people who would benefit from taking statins to prevent a heart attack or stroke. These are: Read More about New Guidelines for Preventing Heart Attacks – What They Mean for You