Friday, September 10, 2010

The MacStatin

“I’ll take a quarter pounder, fries, and a statin to go, please.”

Crazy? Not really. In the American Journal of Cardiology, August 15th, 2010 issue the “MacStatin” strategy was introduced. A group of British Cardiologists suggested fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, offer a statin with their meal. How about that? A statin right next to the ketchup, mayonnaise, salt and sugar. Why not? People eat unhealthy meals and complete life compromising acts without a providers consult…so why need a prescription and see a provider for a statin? The statin could be sprinkled in the milkshake, on top of the hamburger or on the French Fries.

The researchers compared the increase in relative risk of cardiovascular disease associated with total and trans-fat content of the meal to the reduction in the relative risk observed in a meta analysis of primary prevention statin trials. The authors were able to show the risk of a heart attack could be reduced by adding a statin to their high fat and high trans fat meal. The risk associated with a cheeseburger and milkshake meal can be offset with one statin tablet.

However, there are other concerns associated with high fat, high trans fat and high calorie meals that lead to further health risk…such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. So, it doesn’t eliminate all the risk; but, perhaps, lessens the initial insult to the system. We’d all be better off with a colorful salad, lean protein and water to go.

Ferenczi EA,, Am J Cardiol. 2010 Aug 15;106(4):587-92.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tea = Healthy Heart

Get ready to change your Starbucks order. Despite all the Starbucks coffee stores, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost 80% of all U.S. households. But the relationship between tea/coffee consumption and coronary heart disease death/stroke has been unclear.

A recent study published in the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology Journal in June of 2010, looked at the connections of both coffee and tea consumption with coronary heart disease death and stroke as well as all cause mortality. Approximately 37,000 participants were followed for 13 years. The participants were assessed for stroke, heart disease death and all cause mortality. It was found that high tea consumption (6.0 cups) per day was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease death. These findings were statistically significant. However, in moderate coffee drinkers the results only suggested a slight risk reduction for coronary heart disease death and were not a statistically significant reduction. Neither tea nor coffee were found to have an effect on stroke nor do they have an effect on all cause mortality.

The heart benefits of tea consumption may be explained by the antioxidants found in tea called flavonoids. Flavonoids are also found in dark chocolate, blueberries, red grapes and red wine. Next time you plan to stop for a morning drink on your way to work or have a friend over, serve up some heart healthy tea. Tea is enjoyed all year round as it cools you down in the summertime and warms you up in the winter months.

de Koning Gans, J. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association, August, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Omega 3 Fish Oils Help Slow the Aging Process

Why do some people die of “old age” in their 70s and others in their 90s? Do our cells reach a point where they no longer function? Researchers from the University of California @ San Francisco (UCSF) have discovered Omega 3 fish oils help slow our aging process by protecting our DNA. We typically have a double strand of 23 chromosomes—one-half from our mother and one-half from our father. The ends of our chromosomes are protected by telomeres, much like the caps at the end of our shoelaces; thus, preventing our chromosomes from “fraying”. Each month our cells divide so they can reproduce many times. During cell division our telomeres can become shortened or “snipped” (the shorter the telomere the older the cell). If the telomere becomes too short the cell either dies or enters an inactive state-making one more vulnerable to disease; thus, the longer the telomere the longer your life potential.

Researchers completed a prospective study on 608 California outpatients with stable coronary artery disease. Researchers measured both the length of the telomere in the white blood cells and the Omega 3 blood levels at the beginning of the study and five years later at the end of the study. The study demonstrated an inverse relationship between baseline blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and the shortening rate of the telomere over five years. Small increases in the Omega 3 blood levels were associated with 30-35% reduced risk of shortened telomeres.

The American Heart Association recommends for individuals without heart disease to take 500 mg of the DHA + EPA. For patients with heart disease it is recommended you take 1000 mg of the DHA + EPA.

Slow your aging process: reduce stress, eat healthy, exercise and take your Omega 3 fish oils.

Ramin Farzaneh-Far, MD; JAMA. 2010;303(3):250-257.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daily Health Planner

Click below for your Daily Health Planner. It contains five daily actions to take care of the homes we are given to live in...our bodies.

After all, if we don't take care of it, where will we live?
Your Daily Health Planner Here

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who's Driving Health Care?

Can you pick out a patient with VA insurance from their medication list? Who's delivering patient care and health care policies? Check this out:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

10 Tips to Improve Your Health

1. Get some exercise every day.

  • Buy a Pedometer and make sure you walk 10,000 steps daily
  • Take daily walks
  • Use the stairs
  • Park further away

2. Eat Healthy

  • Lean protein and 2 colors at each meal (fruits/vegetables)
  • Make sure you eat breakfast (prevents mindless nibbling throughout day and prevents overeating at lunch)

3. Stop Smoking – or don’t start

  • We now have several options to help you quit smoking
  • Set Quit date

4. Drink Plenty of Water daily (unless you have a fluid restriction)

5. Get 7-8 hours of Sleep Nightly

6. Floss daily

  • Lots of data suggesting unhealthy gums increases inflammation markers and can lead to poor health.

7. Keep your Brain Active

  • Complete crossword puzzles
  • Participate in discussions and forums
  • Stay aware of what is going on in the world

8. Get a Hobby

  • Arts/crafts
  • Blogging
  • Gardening
  • Restoring Cars
  • Decorating
  • Healthy cooking
  • Record collections/Music

9. Reduce Stress

  • Think Positive
  • Spend 30 minutes a day doing something YOU like (visit a friend, read a book, play with your dog, listen to soothing music, get a facial, massage, meditate)
  • Exercise
  • Laugh more

10. Make small goals and reward yourself when meeting them

  • Example: make a goal to complete at least 7 of the 10 tips daily for one month. When you meet this goal reward yourself with a new workout outfit, CD, new tennis shoes, massage, personal trainer session, etc
  • Example: For every 20 sessions of exercise you complete reward yourself

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Too Sweet For Your Own Good

Have you been told you are “pre-diabetic” or “borderline for diabetes”? Or perhaps you have been told you have diabetes and are beginning to make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage it with diet, lifestyle…and maybe an oral medication or two. Most of Type II Diabetes (which used to be called adult onset diabetes…only now it is affecting our kids) can be prevented through healthy eating and exercise. We used to see Type II Diabetes in people ages 50s-60s…the years people began to let themselves go-not eat as healthy, less exercise, etc. Now, our teenagers and young kids are eating bad and letting their health slide at much earlier ages. Many patients I see are surprised to learn that a fasting blood sugar of 100-125 places them in the pre-diabetic category or that 2 fasting sugars of 126 or greater diagnosis one with diabetes. Well, those are the reference points. Do you know what your fasting blood sugar is? Yes, get out your lab results from your last annual physical and check out your fasting blood sugar (glucose) number. It is important for all of us to know our fasting blood sugar levels in order to optimize our health and prevent diabetes in our life.

Fortunately Pre-Diabetes and Type II Diabetes for the most part can be prevented through diet and lifestyle. This would involve decreasing simple carbohydrates and sugars in your diet (see Curbing Your Sweet Tooth) and adding aerobic exercise to your daily regimen. As a Nurse Practitioner I often depend on supplements to assist patients in optimizing their health along with optimal diet and exercise. For patients that have sugar levels greater than 100, I often recommend CardioGT (glucose tolerance) which when used along with the proper diet and exercise regimen, can help maintain a healthy blood sugar level. CardioGT is formulated using natural ingredients which have been identified to have a positive impact on glucose metabolism. These ingredients are chromium, alpha-lipoic acid, magnesium, vanadium and cinnamon. (Click on link for more information regarding these natural ingredients.)

Diabetes, or pre-diabetes, significantly increases your risk for heart disease. If you are one of these individuals with elevated blood sugar levels, CardioGT, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, may help assist you in improving your long-term health outlook . Click here for further information on CardioGT.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Many Calories Do You Drink?

Beverage Serving Size Teaspoons Sugar Calories

Chocolate Milk 8 oz 6 190

Gatorade 8 oz 3 ¼ 63

Gatorade 21 oz 8 150

Sweet Tea 8 oz 5 ½ 91

Coke 12 oz 9 ¾ 155

Orange Juice 8 oz 5 ¾ 130

How Many Calories Make Up 1 Pound?

It takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound.


500 extra calories a day for one week will cause you to gain one pound.


500 calories less per day for one week will cause you to lose one pound.

If you drink 2 cans of soda daily for one month, you will have consumed 12.2 cups of sugar & 9300 extra calories.

If you drink 2 cans soda daily for a year, you will have consumed 146 cups of sugar & 111,600 extra calories.

Enough extra calories to gain 31.9 pounds in 1 year!

(If you change to water or unsweetened tea you could lose 31.9 pounds in 1 year!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Artificial Sweeteners: Blue, Pink, and Yellow Packets

When I was little, treats or “sugars” in the house were sparse. When they were available all the siblings kept an eye on them to make sure whatever it was-it was evenly distributed. Over time, these sugar products became inexpensive and have infiltrated our homes. We have traded healthy snacks for desserts three plus times per day. And we got bigger and now obese. As smart Americans, we found a way to have this same sweet taste without the calories or sugar spikes that real sugar has. Yep, out of the production lines came diet drinks and those colorful packets-the artificial sweeteners.

We really have enjoyed them. But, as a society, did we get smaller and lose weight with these products? No. In fact, we have gotten bigger and many Americans are not only obese; but more and more Americans are now morbidly obese. Why is that? It’s because we crave the taste of it, not the calories. We crave tasting the sweet stuff. Thus, the more of the sweet taste, the more we crave.

No matter what it is, a diet drink or a coffee with artificial sweetener in it, once we have it – it turns on our craving for more…and the mental agony for the day starts. About every 2 hours or so you are not hungry; but, you physically feel you need something to feel better – or stop your craving. So you feed your withdrawal symptoms so you can go back to work and concentrate on what you were doing. You might get a pretzel, grab a small handful of M&Ms off someone’s desk, pop a peppermint in your mouth, snack on some popcorn, or consume anything that is a simple carbohydrate or sugar to get the craving gone….only to have it again 2 hours later. And each time you complete the mindless nibbling or increased consumption of simple carbs and sugars you are disappointed in yourself and don’t understand why you did it….because after you have fed the craving the urge or craving is resolved and you can once again think rationally. How could you have let yourself do that?

It’s simple. We do not recommend diet drinks, artificial sweeteners or simple sugars. Once you begin consuming these substances the battle begins. You have turned on the craving for the day and for the most part…you will fight it all day long. So avoid the battle, avoid the addiction…concentrate on lean protein and fruits and vegetables at each of your meals and for your snacks. Stay Healthy from the beginning of your day to the end.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chocolate Bunnies for Easter?

Happy Easter! For many of you this means going to church to celebrate the meaning of Easter as well as carrying on some of the Easter traditions. Which include eating candy and chocolate bunnies. There is so much information about dark chocolate and it’s benefits that many of the patients we see tell us ….“I have been eating my dark chocolate. You know, it is healthy for you.”

Well, it is true, dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants (containing more than milk or white chocolate), and the fat present in dark chocolate is metabolically neutral. Studies have demonstrated a small amount of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure and can reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

Other benefits of dark chocolate aside from protecting your heart include:

  • It stimulates endorphin (happy hormone) production.

  • It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.

  • It tastes good.

BUT, this isn’t a free pass to eat all the dark chocolate you can get your hands on. Chocolate is a high calorie, high fat food. Most of the studies done use 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate or less per day to get these benefits. If you are eating dark chocolate and telling yourself it is healthy; while at the same time, gaining 10 pounds, become pre-diabetic, and gaining abdominal fat (bigger waistline)-you aren’t being honest with yourself and you are hurting your own health. Also, if you are addicted to sugar; this keeps you craving for more sugar (see Curbing Your Sweet Tooth).

One bar of dark chocolate can contain up to 400 calories. If you eat half the bar of dark chocolate for the day you still have to balance out those extra 200 calories by eating less of something else.

It’s like life-everything in moderation. Enjoy the present pleasures in such a way that you do not injure future opportunities.

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you spend the day filling up your souls and keeping your body on the healthy track.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stress and/or Binge Eating

Perhaps you don’t even know you are stress/binge eating until you have finished or are well into the moment. Here are some tips to assist you in stopping Stress/Binge eating.

  • Have fewer “treats” around the house/kitchen
  • Bake less
  • Wait 15-20 min to eat – drink a cup of water-the urge may pass
  • If something’s bothering you exercise first
  • Keep a journal of what you eat and drink everyday
  • Don’t bring any junk food into the home
  • Sit down to eat

When you do Over Eat…

  • Find healthy choices to have available in the future
  • Do not buy more of the culprit binge item so it is not available to you during the next weak moment.
  • Please take me for a walk. Don't binge eat again.
  • Ask yourself why did this happen? What can I change?
  • Don’t dwell on it. Move on. It’s done. It’s not about where you have been; but, about where you are going.
  • Exercise more and eat a little less the next day.
  • Change your routine to avoid this in the future.
  • Engage in a new activity or hobby. You will eat less when your mind is on a new hobby.

Each day set a nutrtional goal and a physical activity goal. We all must have a goal before we can accomplish it. Stay Healthy.

Curbing Your Sweet Tooth

Are you beginning to have a hard time with the weight loss? It’s hard to help anyone lose weight if they start their day off with sugar of any kind. And so many people start their day off with sugars. Once one begins the day with sugar…the addiction begins. Every 2-3 hours they will find themselves having to feed the withdrawal symptoms of coming down from their sugar high. One might pick up a pretzel here, sip a soda or a coffee with sugar added to it, eat a peppermint, nibble on chocolate, eat popcorn, etc….until another 2-3 hours occurs again and they’ll either have a meal with more simple carbohydrates (breads, pastas, white rice, soups, crackers, etc) or simple sugars in it to calm down the withdrawal symptoms. And then the cycle repeats. Sound familiar?

I have randomly picked 4 patient charts and I thought I would share with you what their reported breakfasts are:

Chart #1 Frosted mini wheats and orange juice

Chart #2 Instant Oatmeal with raisins, cranberry juice

Chart #3 Starbucks Latte and cookie

Chart #4 Orange Juice, 2 pieces of toast, dried apricots

Do you see a trend here? There is no protein and each breakfast is loaded with sugars. If kids eat this…come 0930 or 10am they aren’t concentrating on a math problem…they are looking to where they can get 10 pieces of gum, a candy bar, soda, or a friend to give them a treat…as they are having withdrawal symptoms which are so strong they can’t concentrate…until the withdrawal symptom is resolved. Same with adults. In our office building, if you go to the vending machines from 3pm-5pm…people do not need dinner. They need to feed their withdrawal from sugar symptoms so they can get back to work and concentrate. The key is do NOT start your day off with sugar. Sugar of any kind. That includes artificial sweetners too! Yes, the blue, pink and yellow packets do not help.

Ask yourself this: Did the people in the world lose weight or gain weight after diet drinks and artificial sweeteners came about? We definitely haven’t gotten any smaller. The reason is, it is not the calories we crave-it’s the taste we crave. If we start our day off with coffee and a colored packet…the sweet taste is turned on and the addiction cycle begins.

So what is a good breakfast? I’ll keep it simple. Each meal should have lean protein and 2 colors (fruits and/or vegetables). Some examples of heart healthy breakfast would consist of apple and celery slices with all natural peanut butter, handful of healthy nuts (walnuts, almonds and pecans) with fruits and/or vegetables, egg whites with fruits and or vegetables, cooked oatmeal (instant is high in sugar-stay away from instant oatmeal) and then add handful of healthy nuts and 2 colors (blueberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, etc), left over meat from the night before with fruits and/or vegetables are all healthy breakfasts. If you need to sweetened a food item – use cinnamon- it helps to reduce your blood sugar levels by assisting your own cells in being more sensitive to your own insulin.

Remember, if you look down at your plate and you do not have lean protein and “2 colors” you are not eating to feed your organs; but, you are eating for pleasure. Feed your organs first and remember, do not begin your day and your most important meal with sugar….breakfast will set your pace for the day.

To those of you trying to lose weight: Keep at it and avoid the sugars. The first 10-14 days will be difficult as your body will be reseting to it’s new normal blood sugar levels. Once this occurs…the sugars will no longer dictate when you eat, nibble or snack…instead you will be back in charge of your body and your health.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Up Front and Personal...When the Rubber Meets the Road

The other day a patient came to the Cardio Wellness Clinic for an individualized health plan to optimize his health. When I asked how he had heard about the clinic he coldly responded, “I really don’t know why I am here. My physician insisted I come; but, my cholesterol isn’t high and I don’t believe I have any high risks for heart disease-besides I’ve heard all of this before.”

I immediately scanned his chart and looked at the many health risks this young man carried with him. I was quite alarmed that he seemed to have no knowledge of how serious his risks were. He was a male over the age of forty-five, had a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, his bad(LDL) cholesterol was over 150 mg/dL (his goal is less than 100 mg/dL), his good(HDL) cholesterol was too low and his triglycerides (another form of bad cholesterol) were nearly double his targeted goal. His sugar level placed him in the pre-diabetic state and his weight in relation to his height placed him in the obese category with a high and unhealthy waist circumference. As science has proven, one risk factor plus another doesn’t equal a 2 fold increase risk for heart disease; but, can be over a 4 fold increase risk. You see risk factors for heart disease have a multiplicative effect and multiple risks can lead to significant health risks. This patient, whenever I began to speak would immediately stop me to let me know I need not waste my breath as “I’ve heard this all before.”

Each patient is unique with unique risks and unique health plans; but, among them all lies a common thread that in many ways connects them. In this particular case, it wasn’t that he didn’t believe he had risks for heart disease. After all, he drove himself over a hour to come to the appointment. He was fearful of having to change his life and facing the inevitable fact that his current lifestyle was slowly ruining his health. You see as long as no one says it-he doesn’t have to face it. That’s why he was stopping me every time I spoke, yet he drove over 60 miles for the appointment-he knew he needed to hear it-he wanted someone to hold him accountable.

For all of you who have untreated risks or who have let yourself go over the years-don’t be fearful and don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not about where you have been-it’s about where you are going. Most of heart disease can be prevented. For this young man, I informed him of all his risks (quite the list) and told him he was quite fortunate. He hadn’t had any damage to his heart and all the risks I acknowledged with the exception of his age were all modifiable-something he could change. I told him he still had control of his health he just needed to start making changes. He didn’t speak- tears rolled down his face, he understood. The rubber met the road.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease includes a number of problems affecting the heart and blood vessels in the heart. Types of heart disease include coronary artery disease (blockages in the heart arteries), heart failure (problems with the heart not pumping efficiently), or a heart arrhythmia

(changes in the beat of your heart). Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart disease. It is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary (heart) arteries. It is the major reason why people have heart attacks.

Check out the video to see how plaque in your heart arteries can lead to a heart attack or sudden death. Many people think it is because it grows slowly over time and eventually it becomes big enough to block enough blood flow to the heart to cause a heart attack or sudden death. We know today plaque will burst to cause that heart attack or sudden death. (See Video)

Heart disease remains the number one killer in both men and women today. But, this doesn’t have to be your fate. Much of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices. That is why it is so important to take action, become aware of risks, minimize them and continually manage them. If you have risks, or have heart disease we encourage you to follow up with your health care provider or through your Cardio Wellness clinic to make sure you have minimized all your risks, stablized your plaque and are on your way to optimal health.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Six Motivational Tips for Exercise

1) Don’t Count the Calories Burned

One of the ways to keep exercising is not counting the calories burned or weight lost. There are more important things transforming in your workout. Such as new found self esteem, stress reduction, increase endorphin levels (Happy Hormone), improving memory and cognition and adding longevity to your life to name a few.

2) Accountability

Hold yourself accountable. Mark an “X” on your calendar every time you exercise. Seeing your motivation (or lack thereof) in black and white helps to keep you focused on your goal.

3) Join a club, exercise class, or exercise with a buddy

Statistics inform us that we are more consistent with exercise when we do it with a buddy. Just knowing someone is waiting for you to exercise; helps you to show up and get it done.

4) Challenge Yourself

Sign up for a local 5K walk/run or bike trip. It will help you stay focused on your exercise goal while accomplishing a new activity. Not only will you benefit from the exercise; but, from your community involvement too.

5) Reward

Put a dollar or two in the jar every time you complete a workout. When you have enough money, treat yourself to a massage, new CD, workout outfit, session with a personal trainer, or new piece of sport/exercise equipment.

6) Mood Motivation

Often people will say it’s my mood that either motivates me to exercise or not. Regardless of your mood prior to exercise—exercise has been known to improve your mood. Work out your aggressions in the gym instead of at home or work.

Let’s ring in the New Year being active and moving our bodies. Cheers to our Health!

Friday, January 1, 2010

CardioTabs Omega 3 Fish Oils: Blue Ocean to the Green Economy

CardioTabs continues to update it’s products based upon the latest scientific evidence and what’s best for our environment. The use of marine-derived Omega 3 fatty acids as therapeutic agents have been well established for a wide-range of medical conditions. (Omega 3 fatty acids, are highly concentrated in the brain, eyes, nervous system and other vital organs.) Over the past several years there have been confusion as to which omega 3 fatty acid is most crucial for our health- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Recent studies point to DHA as the number one Omega 3 fatty acid for cardiovascular health. In general, research has demonstrated EPA did not show significant effects on blood pressure reduction and heart rate. However, DHA demonstrated significant effects on enhancing dilation mechanisms through forearm circulation, lowering blood pressure, reduction of heart rate and further triglyceride (type of cholesterol) reduction. Not only is DHA showing superior benefits in the heart health arena but also for overall human health. Recent literature suggests DHA’s health benefits extends past our heart health to other areas such as growth and development, brain function and eye function-particularly in the elderly.

Typically fish oils and fish oil concentrates unfortunately contain much less DHA than EPA. CardioTabs has always offered a higher DHA to EPA ratio in their fish oils. In fact the CardioTabs standard Omega 3, burp free, fish oil has a 2.6 to 1 – DHA to EPA ratio. But, what’s more exciting is CardioTabs is now offering us a new product to choose from. It is an Ocean Safe Omega 3 fish oil that has a 10 to 1 – DHA to EPA ratio. This Ocean Safe fish oil not only offers more DHA but it contains 400 iu of Vitamin D3- the vitamin we all seem to be deficient in -and it comes in a citrus berry flavor. If you have heart disease I would recommend 2 of these capsules daily. If you do not have heart disease one capsule should suffice. (You may even chew these fish oils if you like- citrus berry taste.)

So what makes this new product a “green” product? This oil is obtained using safe and sustainable fishing techniques that do not destroy the ocean habitat or deplete the fish stocks. The marine oil is produced from food grade calamari. Calamari has a short life span so they are in plentiful supply and they are naturally high in DHA. CardioTabs fish oil from the Blue Ocean to the Green Economy-protecting our health and the natural habitats of the ocean.