Helping the Mayo Clinic Prevent Heart Attacks

Blood pressure, lipids, BMI…I can’t seem to get these “lyrics” out of my head ever since I saw the Mayo Clinic’s music video “Know Your Numbers” featuring a parody of the 1982 hit song 567-5309/Jenny. This video marks the Mayo Clinic’s entrance into social media and their novel approach to spreading the word about preventing heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. However, many women are unaware of this. Having abnormal numbers for blood pressure, lipids, and body mass index (BMI) can be indicators of a risk  for heart disease. The good news is you CAN do something about it; change your lifestyle.

Two lifestyle changes I want to mention  go hand-in hand, exercise and diet. The recommendations for exercise are a minimum of 30 minutes daily for most days. Exercise can help you maintain your weight and can help you burn additional calories if you are in need of weight reduction. Already exercising for 30 minutes daily?  You may want to consider adding a couple of days per week of resistance training. This type of exercise improves muscle tone and preserves lean muscle mass (important in keeping your metabolism high). Resistance exercise can also prevent age related loss of bone. If you are new to exercise, first check with you doctor. Walking is often the simplest exercise for those unaccustomed to physical activity. It’s always best to choose a physical activity you enjoy; it will be easier to stick with. Set aside time everyday for exercise by marking it in your calendar.

The second lifestyle change I want to mention is diet. I don’t like this word anymore than you do. It sounds boring, hard to stick with, and frankly…unappealing. When I use the word diet, I would prefer you to think of healthy food choices, food for building a strong body, or food for disease prevention.

The diet I would like to introduce to you is the DASH eating plan. This has been ranked as the #1 diet above the popular Mediterranean diet. DASH is actually an acronym for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. DASH is recommended for those with elevated blood pressure, but its’ health benefits extend far beyond just the population with hypertension. As a matter of fact, DASH has been recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a healthy eating model for everyone.  This plan is good for your heart as well as your waistline!

What is the DASH plan? This plan is rich in: potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber. It is unnecessary to track these nutrients if you choose foods wisely. Simply eat the foods you have always known to be wholesome (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/beans/seeds, lean protein such as poultry and seafood and low-fat/non-fat dairy) and steer clear of those you have known as not so healthy (calorie and fat laden sweeets and red meat). Last but not least, limit your salt intake.

Here is what a day’s menu on the DASH diet might look like:

BREAKFAST

3/4-cup unsweetened cold cereal

1-cup nonfat milk

Fresh banana

1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 T peanut butter ( freshly ground)

LUNCH

1- cup nonfat milk

Sandwich made with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 oz. lean ham (95% fat free) and 1 oz. low fat mozzarella cheese, 2 slices of tomato, leaf of romaine lettuce, mustard, 1 T low-fat mayonnaise

1-cup minestrone

Fresh apple

SNACK

Yogurt parfait made with  6 oz.  light  nonfat vanilla yogurt,  1/2  cup blueberries and 1 T chopped walnuts (unsalted)

DINNNER

3 oz. grilled salmon

1/2-cup brown rice

1- cup steamed broccoli

Salad made with 1-cup romaine lettuce, 1/4-cup grated carrots, 2 slices of onion, 2 radishes, 3 slices of tomato, 1T vinaigrette dressing

1/2 cup seedless grapes

Supplements and Surgery: Not a “Natural” Combination

 

I love it when a person or incident inspires me to write. Such is the case for my writing today which was inspired by a man I met at a local food event this past October. I was there to help patrons find credible nutrition resources on the web when I was approached by a gentleman who asked me about fish oil supplements. He went on to say, “I never knew that I needed to stop taking these supplements before surgery. ” He then shared with  me the details of the complications he experienced after a surgical procedure, all of which could have been avoided had he stopped taking the supplements prior to surgery.

The complications described by the gentleman mentioned above were related to a couple of the potential side effects of consuming fish oil in amounts greater than 3 grams/day: decreased blood clotting and increased risk of bleeding. Both very serious complications, especially if you’re undergoing surgery. This real life story illustrates the potential negative impact supplements can have on the perioperative period.

Fish oil is a dietary supplement. Consumers should also be aware of the potential dangers of herbal supplements which are now perhaps the largest segment of the American supplement market. Dietary, nutritional  and herbal supplements are all exempt from the safety and efficacy regulations that are required of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Manufacturers of these supplements do not need FDA approval before they market these products (except in the case of  a new dietary ingredient). Consequently, these supplements have not been investigated in large clinical trials and the formulations are not standardized, but vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Although frequently marketed as “natural” the active ingredients in  supplements interact with other medications, have drug-like effects and side effects all of which can be dangerous.

Deciding to undergo a surgical procedure is a big decision.  Your goal is to have the BEST surgical outcome possible. It is prudent to discuss ALL supplements you are taking or are considering taking with your doctor (even those you believe to be “natural”). Many supplements thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding which can lead to a host of complications including: hematoma, infection, possible need for blood transfusion, wound breakdown complications, cardiac effects, inability to begin rehabilitation immediately. Is that enough? There are plenty of variables to complicate surgery  without the additional risk factors from supplements loosely marketed as “natural”.

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