DeVito monitors her exercise and her diet to keep herself healthy.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Remember your first crush?
And how about that first heartache?
With a new year well under way, recollections of first heart throbs may seem easier to recall than some first-of-January resolutions but, unlike the mystery of romance, the research on physical heart trouble is scientifically clear: a healthy diet, moderate exercise and a cheerful attitude are critical for a healthy heart. And, like with love, there are some things that might get you into trouble.
Heart smart shopping
One of the easiest strategies to building a healthier heart is to begin by choosing good foods, said Tami Miller, a consulting dietitian at Central Peninsula General Hospital, who, among many other duties, serves the in- and out-patient diabetic and cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Miller offers a simple approach to the grocery store: "Stay on the outside isles and avoid the middle isles as much as possible. Check labels. Look out for animal fats as well as the words 'hydrogenated,' 'partially hydrogenated' and 'saturated fat.'"
Miller recommends substituting items such as Chicken in a Biscuit crackers and other goodies found in the center isles with more fruits and vegetables. She also suggests shoppers purchase olive oil or canola oil instead of palm and coconut oils but warns that, "Fat is fat, and fat has a lot of calories."
Part of Miller's role at CPGH is to help individualize diet plans for patients. To assess a patient's eating patterns, Miller requests they keep an (honest) three-day food journal. Then, together she and the patient work out a plan.
"If someone is in the habit of eating a half of a package of Oreos a day, I try and encourage them to eat a few less cookies each day, then we go from there. It's about making small, positive changes over time," Miller said.
For better or worse, in sickness and the gym
Jill Rife, coordinator for the cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes self-management education programs at CPGH, asserts that, "Exercise is the other key ingredient to heart health."
Rife is clear about the myth of the easy diet plan.
"There is no magic pill. I have seen many people go on diets such as the Atkins, but I have not yet seen anyone able to maintain results for a long period of time."
Rife and Miller subscribe to the theory of encouraging people to make small changes over time. Rife works with patients and staff members to encourage patients to exercise.
"Some patients can only stand to be on the treadmill for a minute or two when they start, but that's OK. The idea is to keep at it every day. I have heard many exercise programs warn people to check with their doctor before beginning a exercise regime, but walking is safe for everyone. I like to say, if you are not going to exercise, see your doctor," Rife said.
Rife recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 20 minutes of intense exercise most days of the week.
When asked to define moderate, Rife replied, "A good way to gauge moderate is that it is possible to hold a conversation during a workout, in an intensive workout talking becomes difficult."
As far as measuring distance, Rife suggests that a 20-minute mile is a good general goal.
got to do with it?
Kathleen Dinius, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, has 34 years of practical experience in the field of counseling with individuals and families. Her philosophical approach to treating her patients revolves around the concept of "being of a happy heart."
"What we do with our minds has everything to do with our bodies. When the attitude changes, the adrenaline changes," she said.
In her practice, Dinius focuses on an approach to treatment that integrates the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and physical areas of her patients' lives. Dinius said the body and the mind work cooperatively in response to emotions.
"A merry heart is good medicine, is a good way to put it," she said.
Mad about you, and everything else
Rita Draheim, advanced nurse practitioner and counselor at Peninsula Mental Health, referred to a study in a workbook she frequently uses. The study stated people who scored higher in anger were four to five times more likely to develop heart disease and seven times more likely to die from complications of that heart disease.
While diet and exercise are good, harboring unresolved anger is definitely unhealthy, she said.
While each expert had their own perspective on the subject of heart health, Miller, Rife, Dinius and Draheim all echoed similar sentiments: There is no magic pill, it's about making small positive choices and changes over time.
Maybe the Beatles were right, at least as far as identifying one of the most enjoyable forms of maintaining heart health: "All we need is love."
And, of course, some cardiovascular exercise and a great shopping list.
Heart links on the Web:
www. American heart.org
Heart health quiz
February is not just for candy hearts and romance anymore it's also American Heart Month.
But if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, how do their hearts differ?
Here is an unofficial, heart-wise Valentine's Day quiz:
If you believe any of the following facts to pertain to men's health issues, circle M next to the statement. For women, circle the W.
1) Heart disease is the leading cause of death for (M/W) and it kills 32 percent of them.
2) (M/W) are less likely to die after bypass surgery.
3) Thirty-eight percent of (M/W) will die one year after the first heart attack.
4) Twenty-five percent of (M/W) first heart-attack survivors will die one year after their first heart attack.
5) Thirty-five percent of (M/W) first heart-attack survivors will have another attack within the first six months.
6) (M/W) are more likely to receive beta blockers, ACE Inhibitors medication or even aspirin after a heart attack.
7) 31, 837 (M/W) die each year from heart attacks. (Hint: That's six times as many that die from breast cancer.)
8) Eighteen percent of heart attack survivors (M/W) will be disabled after the first attack.
9) Forty-six percent of of heart-attack survivors (M/W) will be disabled within six years of the first attack.
10) Each year more (M/W) receive necessary angioplasties, implantable defibrillators and open-heart surgeries.
11) (M/W) are less likely to exhibit the classic symptoms of heart disease.
12) (M/W) are more likely to participate in leisure time physical activities.
13) Smoking, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, increasing age, family history, alcohol intake, eating habits, exercise participation and regular check-ups are crucial factors in determining heart health (M/W/both).
14) Ninety percent of heart disease is preventable for (M/W/ both).
Answers: 1) W. 2) M. 3) W. 4) M. 5) W. 6) M. 7) W. 8) M. 9) W . 10) M . 11) W. 12) M . Numbers 13 and 14 are proof positive that although men and women differ, heart disease is an equal-opportunity heartbreaker.
Sources: National Center on Health Statistics and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, in cooperation with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health, NIH publication No. 98-403, 1998 and the Mayo Clinic, Steps to Heart Health Risk Factor brochure, the majority of which, came from a collection of Judy DeVito's recourses.
To contact DeVito about giving a heart health awareness presentation, call 283-7437.
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